Tension has returned to Lichtenburg after a local businessman Jaco du Plooy, who allegedly shot dead a 15-year-old boy last week, was granted R20 000 bail this morning.
Several businesses were closed as a large group of community members ran through the farming North West town. They were heading from Lichtenburg’s magistrates’ court to Blydeville township.
The clearly disappointed, angry community members sang and chanted words such as “ha re robale kajeno” (we’re not sleeping tonight) as they ran towards the township.
One of the community leaders told City Press that the group was going to a local stadium, where they would hold a meeting to decide on a way forward.
Last week’s killing saw a thick racial tension descend on the small North West town. The divisions were clear outside the court building ahead of the proceedings. A group of white people stood on one side while police kept a larger, demonstrating group from Blydeville behind tape usually used to cordon off crime scenes.
Joseph Tshukudu was killed during a service delivery protest in the area last week. Police said witnesses would testify that the 15-year-old was standing away from a group of protesters. He and two others were redirecting motorists away from a barricaded road.
The court heard last week that Du Plooy (46) was driving with about four of his workers in the back of a bakkie when he arrived at the spot where Tshukudu and the others were standing. He got out and opening fire, hitting the deceased in the forehead.
Two of his companions sustained light injuries from the shooting.
Du Plooy told the court in an affidavit supporting his bail application last week that he had found himself in a life-threatening situation when he came across a group of about eight people screaming at him. He said they were holding rocks and stones, which made him feel they were going to attack, rob him of his car or even damage it.
Du Plooy was granted bail despite the state’s argument that his release would lead to the disturbance of public order, such as the scenes seen in nearby Coligny earlier this year when several houses were torched by angry protesters after a 16-year-old boy died, allegedly at the hands of two farmers.
The court said the accused were still protected by law and deserving of bail so that their lives could continue while investigation continued and they could also arrange their legal defence.
It was on almost similar grounds that Du Plooy was granted his freedom after spending just over a week in jail. He is facing a charge of murder and two charges of attempted murder.
A clearly happy Du Plooy turned around in court to shake hands with those who surrounded his wife on the seat right behind the accused’s box after he was granted bail.
The most visibly hit by the court’s decision to grant Du Plooy bail was the deceased’s mother, Lillian Tshukudu, who slowly raised to her feet supported by relatives.
The tearful and grief-stricken mother struggled to open her mouth when asked for reaction to the court’s decision.
The deceased’s father, Willem Motlhoki, only had a few words to say before he walked away: “I am yet to bury my son but his killer is already out of jail. The court is saying he must be freed to go and feed his family because he is a bread winner … were our feelings even considered, if at all?”