Petrus Durant still sees nothing wrong with his decision to shoot dead a farmworker who would not stop his runaway tractor.
Johannesburg – Security firm owner Petrus Durant still sees nothing wrong with his decision to shoot dead a farmworker who would not stop his runaway tractor.
Durant was found guilty in October for murdering Masotsha Aaron Mutavhatsindi after he shot the worker in the head, killing him.
The deceased met his death while in the driver’s seat of his favourite blue Landini, a tractor he used for his duties at the Bartlett farm.
Durant ended the worker’s life on the road along Matshelapata, an informal community near Krugersdorp. He was believed to be driving to his shack, as he often did.
But – on that fateful Saturday morning in January last year – his managers at Bartlett farm reported the tractor that drove 45km/h stolen, unleashing Durant to chase him in his high-powered bakkie.
Sentencing proceeded in the state’s case against Durant kicked off at the South Gauteng High Court, sitting at the Palm Ridge Magistrate’s Court.
Found guilty of premeditated murder, Durant faces life in jail.
Judge Ramarumo Monama also found him guilty of possession of an unlawful firearm.
As part of the sentencing proceedings, Durant took to the stand to present evidence that his legal team believed might convince Judge Monama to hand him a lenient sentence.
Durant held that he acted properly by sending a bullet to Mutavhatsindi’s skull, saying his assessment was that the deceased posed grave danger to the public.
“I really thought I was doing the right thing. I really thought I was protecting the community of Matshelapata,” Durant told the court.
“I tried all means to stop him. It didn’t work. Unfortunately, the incident of the shooting ended with him losing his life.”
He went on to spell it out that, even after the guilty verdict, he believed he acted correctly. “I still believe that I did the right thing.”
While in hindsight, he said, he should have driven in front of the tractor to stop it.
During cross-examination, prosecutor Carla Britz pressed him on this position.
“You maintain you did the right thing?” she asked. “That is correct,” he responded.
Durant argued he killed the deceased justifiably, as he drove the tractor erratically and refused to stop.
Judge Monama rejected this, finding him guilty of premeditated murder and possession of an unlawful firearm.
In another attempt to get a lenient sentence, Durant offered to extend financial support to Mutavhatsindi’s family.
“I know the family has lost a breadwinner. I can assist them financially. Money can never bring him back, but it can assist the family to live the way when he was still alive,” he said.
Britz shut this offer down. She said it was just “selfish, so that the court can pity you”. Durant retorted: “No it’s not.”
Sentencing proceedings will continue next week. Two of Mutavhatsindi’s relatives will take to the stand to argue in aggravation of sentence.