21/05/2008 08:01 - (SA)
Nicolize van der Walt, Beeld
Delareyville - While a young farmer appeared in court in the town on charges of murder and attempted murder, interest groups and other politicians lashed out against a Cosatu spokesperson's "irresponsible statements".
Cosatu's provincial secretary Solly Phetoe, in a statement this week, referred to "racist murders" after Jaco Swart, 26, shot two men in his farmhouse at about 02:00.
The initial investigation showed that Swart, who apparently slept with his bedroom door locked, had fired only one shot with his father's licensed firearm. Both intruders presumably were hit by the same bullet.
Michael Thipe, 35, was fatally wounded in the head and his 33-year-old accomplice was hit in the lung. The latter fled after being shot and was later arrested in a nearby informal settlement.
"There is nothing racist about this shooting incident."
"My client protected himself and his possessions according to the law."
"Cosatu is fanning the flames of racial tension. It's funny that when people kill off foreigners of other races, it's xenophobia but when a white person is involved, it's immediately racism," Swart's advocate said to Beeld on Tuesday.
The DA's provincial leader in North West, Chris Hattingh, submitted a motion to the provincial legislature about, among other things, Phetoe's remarks.
"We expressed our worry over the politicising of murders and farmers' defencelessness specifically over Phetoe's remarks.
"It's irresponsible and he misuses his podium to polarise people on the grounds of race."
North West Premier Edna Molewa apparently warned officials to act responsibly during these types of occurrences and to discuss them prudently.
The provincial leader if the Freedom Front Plus Pieter Groenewald said in a statement said the party would write to Cosatu to ask its leaders to intervene in case of "such irresponsible statements by provincial officials".
"Susan Shabangu, the deputy minister of safety and security, can't say that police officers may shoot to kill if their lives are being threatened but then it doesn't count for ordinary citizens," Groenewald said.
Swart's bail of R2 000 was paid by AfriForum, a civil rights organisation that also supported the Swart family during the court hearing.
AfriForum's spokesperson Nantes Kelder said they were worried that South Africa was being driven towards a Zimbabwe-situation where politicians would start interfering in the legal system and that could not be allowed.
The case was postponed until August 26.