Picture: Succo/Pixabay

Johannesburg - The security company owner convicted for murdering a farmworker in the West Rand earlier last year has thrown his previous lawyers under the bus. 

Just as his sentencing proceedings began before Judge Ramarumo Monama Thursday morning, Petrus Durant apologised for what he said was disrespect of his old legal team to the court. 

Durant has dumped Dieter Coetzee, who represented him throughout trial. Coetzee has been replaced by advocate Michelle Ives. 

"I just want to apologise," said Durant. 

"My previous legal team did not show necessary respect to the court."

Judge Monama interjected and told Durant he did not have to apologise for anything. 

Presiding officers should always have the stamina to stomach whatever comes their way in court, Judge Monama said. 

"You don't owe anybody an apology," said the judge. "The court doesn't have to be protected. The court can look after itself. If your previous lawyer did anything else that will be their problem."

Judge Monama previously addressed Coetzee on the manner in which he spoke to the State's witnesses. He told him that everyone in court should be treated with the necessary respect. 

Durant was found guilty on October 4. Judge Monama ruled that he murdered Aaron Mutavhatsindi, who was a tractor driver at Bartlet Eggs Farm.

Durant shot Mutavhatsindi in January last year in Matshelapata, an informal community near Krugersdorp. 

He was chasing Mutavhatsindi as he drove his work tractor towards his shack. Bartlett’s management had informed him that Mutavhatsindi had stolen the tractor.

Angry residents said the killing was racist. Durant denied this and maintained that he acted in the interest of the community as Mutavhatsindi was driving the tractor recklessly. 

Coetzee argued during trial that Durant killed the deceased justifiably, as he drove the tractor erratically and refused to stop.

Judge Monama rejected this evidence. He found Durant guilty of premeditated murder and possession of an unlawful firearm. 

The licence of the firearm Durant used had expired.

The sentencing proceedings continue. 

The Star