Killer farmer approaches Appeal Court to have conviction overturned
Johannesburg – A farmer who was sentenced for murdering a black person is to approach the Supreme Court of Appeal (SCA) to argue for the invalidation of his conviction.
Alfred Jan Bezuidenhout, 59, was convicted in 2018 in the Vosloorus Regional Court and jailed for 15 years for mercilessly killing cattle herder Bisani Tshukelo.
Magistrate Suren Harichand ruled in the lower court that prosecutor India Roos had proved beyond a reasonable doubt that Bezuidenhout had shot Tshukelo in the head in 2016.
Tshukelo was herding cattle in Mapleton on the East Rand when Bezuidenhout shot him.
According to community newspaper, the Boksburg Advertiser, Bezuidenhout initially fired shots at Tshukelo’s cattle and later returned with a revolver and shot the herder in the head.
Bezuidenhout had accused Tshukelo of trespassing on his land. Police arrested Bezuidenhout on the day of the killing.
He was found in possession of an unlicensed .38 special revolver, according to the Boksburg Advertiser report.
He was charged with murder and for being in possession of an unlicensed firearm.
Bezuidenhout pleaded guilty to the unlicensed firearm charge during trial.
However, he denied shooting Tshukelo and pleaded not guilty to the charge of murder.
Harichand, however, found him guilty on both charges and sentenced the farmer to 15 years for murder and eight years for being in possession of an unlicensed firearm. The two sentences were running concurrently.
Bezuidenhout will appeal the murder conviction at the Supreme Court of Appeal in March.
The Bloemfontein-based court has granted him special leave to appeal.
The SCA said in its notice that it would hear Bezuidenhout’s submissions on “whether the evidence of a single witness was ambiguous, contradictory, untruthful and unreliable”.
This was the same legal strategy that two North West farmers, Pieter Doorewaard and Phillip Schutte, had used to invalidate their murder convictions.
The pair were found guilty in October 2018 of murdering 15-year-old Matlhomola Moshoeu in Coligny.
The State had charged that the pair killed Moshoeu by pushing him from a moving bakkie.
Denying the murder charge, they claimed the boy probably jumped from the back of the moving bakkie while they were taking him to the police station.
Doorewaard and Schutte’s appeal targeted the State’s use of a single witness to prove their guilt.
Bonakele Pakisi, the State’s only witness in the case, testified that he saw Schutte throwing Moshoeu out of the moving bakkie.
Doorewaard and Schutte took to the SCA to argue that for a single witness, Pakisi’s testimony was not credible.
Acting appeal Judge Aubrey Ledwaba ruled in their favour and set aside their convictions and sentences.
“In my view, there are material discrepancies in the evidence of Mr Pakisi.
“He is a single witness and there is no corroboration to his evidence,” Judge Ledwaba had said.