Pieter Doorewaard, 28, and Phillip Schutte, 35, were each released on R20 000 bail in the Mmabatho, North West High Court on Friday.
This comes after their special application for leave to appeal against their conviction for the murder of Matlhomola Moshoeu, 15, was granted earlier this year in the appeal court in Bloemfontein.
The two men applied for bail pending the outcome of the appeal proceedings. They appealed to the Court of Appeal after Judge Ronald Hendricks, who convicted them, denied their leave application to appeal because he believed another court would not come to a different finding.
Hendricks effectively jailed Doorewaard in March this year for 18 years and Schutte 23 years after finding them guilty in October last year.
Hendricks found the men were acting together when Schutte dropped the boy in April 2017 from a moving bakkie on a farm near Coligny. They still deny guilt and say the boy jumped or fell off the bakkie himself. The men loaded him in the bakkie to take him to the police station because he allegedly stole sunflowers. Matlhomola broke his neck with the fall and died.
AfriForum assists the men’s legal teams in the appeal and bail proceedings.
Adv. Barry Roux, who is acting for the men, pointed out during the bail application last week that two judges in the Bloemfontein Court of Appeal believe another court may find the only eyewitness in the case’s testimony to be defective. It is also for this reason that the Court of Appeal granted their application for leave to appeal.
“There is therefore a reasonable chance that their appeal will succeed and therefore they should be released on bail pending the outcome of the appeal,” Roux argued last week.
Hendricks reserved a verdict until Friday.
In his conviction at the time, he relied heavily on Bonakele Pakisi’s testimony that he had seen Schutte throw the boy off the bakkie more than once. Hendricks found that although Pakisi contradicted himself in certain respects, his testimony was substantiated in other respects by other witnesses, and that his version erred with evidence of the boy’s injuries.
However, after the trial was concluded, Pakisi admitted to four different people that he lied in court, but later claimed he was paid to say he lied in court.
Roux argued last week that if there was a reasonable chance that another court could throw Pakisi’s testimony, the men could also be found not guilty of the murder and other charges. Pakisi was also the complainant in the other charges to which the men were convicted, including assault and intimidation.
Roux also said the men’s bail application should be considered favorably because they were not convicted of premeditated murder but for murder based on the dolus eventualis principle; that they should be able to foresee someone’s death through their actions.
Adv. Moeketsi Moeketsi, for the state, opposed the application. He argued Pakisi’s testimony was not all that the court relied on to convict the men. “His testimony was also substantiated by other evidence, as well (in some respects) by the accused.”
Moeketsi argued that the men were found guilty on several charges and that the appellate court was unlikely to set aside all those findings.