Shot Ottosdal farmer dragged 1,5km behind bakkie

When the suspected killers of farmer Brood van der Merwe dragged him 1,5km behind his bakkie, they did not know whether he was still alive: testimony by suspect Thabo Matlhoko, 24: Ottosdal court

2011-05-24 – Ottosdal. – After three accused black attackers allegedly had shot farmer André (Brood) van der Merwe at his backdoor, and then dragged him 1,5km behind his bakkie, they didn’t know whether he was still alive. This testimony was introduced by the investigating officer in Ottosdal magistrate’s court during the bail application hearing of the accused males. One of these accused persons, Thabo Matlhoko (24) had overturned the vehicle while driving it to Delareyville – he ‘d lost consciousness and was arrested at the scene. He in turn led the police to the other two suspects. This was the some of the testimony heard in the bail application. (source: Nicolize van der Walt, Beeld)

VdMerwe andre Brood farmer dragged behind bakkie_ThaboMatlhoko_DiphpangPaulKwaKwa_ShadrackThepeloSmith_picBeeld VanderMerwe Andre April302011 murdered Ottosdal DRAGGED BEHIND BAKKIE This was the testimony of the investigating policeman, warrant-officer Pacton Ntlhaile,  during the bail application of the three accused in front of magistrate Chadrack Mokobane in the Ottosdal magistrate’s court. Accused are Thabo Matlhoko, Diphapang Paul Kwa-Kwa (29) and  Shadrack Thapelo Smith (31) of Letsopa-township near Ottosdal. They are expected to plead not guilty to murder charges and other related crimes involving the gruesome death of the popular auctioneer/farmer André ‘Brood’ van der Merwe on his farm Gestoptefontein on 30 April 2011.

The court heard that the  bail-applicants were expected to plead not guilty. It’s not clear why they would do this: warrant-officer Ntlhaile had listeners in the public gallery weep with grief when he read a statement by Matlhoko describing in detail about the way Mr van der Merwe’s life was ended: “The accused went to Mr Van der Merwe’s home near sunset. The accused suspected that Van der Merwe had heard them fiddle with his back door: the farmer stepped outside. When Smith noticed that the deceased had a rifle with him, Smith shot him twice from behind in his neck. Mathlhoko took Van der Merwe’s rifle away from him and also fired a shot.’

However – the coroner’s report of the injuries does not match this statement: it showed that Mr van der Merwe was shot four times – twice in the back, once behind the left ear and once in the cheek. The three then tied Mr Van der Merwe ‘s feet to his, dragging him 1,5km behind his bakkie before leaving his body behind. They didn’t know whether he was still alive at this stage. They took little of real value: some food, cellphones, booze, clothing, shoes and cash. Many other items of value were left behind.”Matlhoko told me” — said the investigating officer — ‘that he wanted to offload the other two and go and have a nice time in Delareyville. He rolled Mr Van der Merwe’s bakkie enroute to Delareyville and was knocked unconscious by the crash. He was arrested at the scene. The .38 revolver suspected of being used in the murder was also found at the accident scene. He led us to the two other suspects at 3am on Sunday’.

State-prosecutor Stephan Fritz wanted to know whether Mr Van der Merwe may still have been alive when he was dragged behind the bakkie: the investigating officer said he did not know. Pro-deo defence counsel Theo Venter pointed out that Matlhoko’s human rights may have been violated, noting that “Matlhoko may not have been fully conscious after the accident, and there was no statement in the dossier in which Matlhoko’s rights were explained to him. The investigating officer also did not submit an application to trace alleged threatening phone calls which were made to state witnesses….’

Picture of ACCUSED MURDERERS OF BOER ANDRÉ VAN DER MERWE, OTTOSDAL, TOP RIGHT: APR 30 2011 by Beeld journalist Nicolize van der Walt  – THE AUCTIONEER/FARMER WAS DRAGGED 1,5KM BEHIND HIS BAKKIE: ltr: accused of dragging farmer Brood van der Merwe of Ottosdal 1,5km behind his bakkie April 30 2011 and shooting him dead are: Thabo Matlhoko, Diphapang Paul Kwa-Kwa and Shadrack Thapelo Smith. Matlhoko submitted a detailed description of André van der Merwe’s murder to the investigating officer — but it was submitted in their bail application hearing that they would be pleading not guilty.

About Adriana Stuijt
Retired South African-Dutch journalist formerly Sunday Times Johannesburg

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