Murder accused Pieter Doorewaard and Phillip Schutte appeared at the North West High Court in Mahikeng. Picture: Molaole Montsho/ANA

Mahikeng - Two farm workers accused of killing a teenage boy in Coligny over an alleged theft of sunflowers pleaded not guilty to seven charges against them at the North West High Court in Mahikeng on Tuesday.

Pieter Doorewaard, 26, and Phillip Schutte, 34 pleaded not guilty to charges of murder, intimidation, kidnapping, unlawful possession of firearm, unlawful possession of ammunition, theft and pointing of a firearm.

The State alleges the two assaulted Matlhomola Jonas Mosweu and throw him out of a moving van on April 20, 2017, at Rietvlei farm near Coligny after accusing him of stealing sunflower from their employer Pieter Karsten's sunflower plantation. Karsten is Doorewaard's uncle.

The state further alleges that the pair kidnapped a man who witnessed the incident and forcefully drove with him around the farm in a vehicle, and assaulted and threatened to kill him if he reported the incident to anyone. They also allegedly stole his cellphone and pointed him with a firearm.

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In his plea explanation read by Advocate Hennie du Plessis, Doorewaard said he was with his co-accused Schutte when they saw two boys picking sunflower heads. He stopped and asked them what why they were doing and they ran away. They caught one of the boys who volunteered to climb into the back of the van, but according to him, while they were driving towards Coligny the boy jumped out of the moving vehicle.

"I did not see how it happened, but my co-accused told me the boy jumped. We stopped the van and saw that he was unconscious," Doorewaard said in his plea explanation.

He said they saw a man and a woman, whom they asked to look after the boy, so that cars should not drive over him, while they went to report the matter to the police in Coligny.

He denied killing Mosweu or making any contact with the man who alleged he saw the incident unfolding.

Schutte, in his plea explanation read by Advocate Pieter Smit, said he admitted that he shouted that Mosweu had jumped out of the van, but he did not see how he jumped.

He said he looked at the back of the van and Mosweu was no longer there and he concluded that he had jumped out of the moving van.
 
Mosweu's death, known as the "sonneblom (sunflower) murder" triggered violent community protests that left a trail of destruction in the small maize growing town and divided the community along racial lines. At least six houses and three trucks were set alight and several shops looted and damaged as tensions erupted.

Mosweu's parents Sakkie Dingake and Agnes Machibidu Mosweu attended the second day of the trial.

Doorewaard and Schutte are out on R5 000 bail each.

African News Agency/ANA