Scales of justice

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IT’S DIFFICULT not to feel angry about the penalty handed out to Limpopo farmer Piet Swart – a fine of R75 000 and a five-year suspended sentence – for shooting and killing teenager Gift Mpangeni on his farm.

Swart had originally been charged with murder and attempted murder.

Gift had been trespassing on his farm with three other friends, fishing on Swart’s dam, when the farmer arrived with his shot gun.

He fired one shot at them and the pellets hit Gift and Lucky Zitha. One pellet hit Gift in the back of the head, another wounded Lucky in the hand. The other two boys escaped.

This week, he’s a free man, albeit a little poorer.

Gift’s family are distraught. They claim the only time they knew anything was when Department of Justice officials came to them to ask where the money should be deposited. Prosecutors probably believe a plea bargain was the best chance at justice, restorative and punitive.

The only redeeming feature in this entire episode is Cosatu’s response. The union federation intends paying for lawyers to take the matter on appeal to a higher court.

That’s the correct intervention. The law must be respected, but it must also be tested. Most importantly, we all need to know that there is one law for all, not one for the rich and one for the poor.

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