Cosatu’s race card blunder

Cosatu has come out guns blazing after a shooting which led to the death of one burglar and the injury of another, labelling it as a “racist murder”.
Issue date : 30 May 2008

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On 16 May at 2am, the late Michael Thipe (33) and his accomplice were each shot through the locked bedroom door they were trying to open, by 26-year-old Jaco Swart.
Swart was staying alone in the farmhouse in Delareyville, North West, when the incident took place. He heard someone fiddling with the locked door and took a hunting rifle, registered in another family member’s name, and fired a shot at the door which went through Thipe’s head and hit his accomplice in the chest. “My client acted appropriately,” said the family’s lawyer. “He couldn’t see through the door and it was therefore not his intention to kill anyone.”

Swart is facing charges of murder, attempted murder and illegal possession of a firearm, according to Police Captain Aafje Botma. But the family’s legal representative said that the law makes provision for anyone to protect their body and possessions if they are threatened.Cosatu’s provincial secretary Solly Phetoe compared the incident with Johan Nel’s actions in the Skielik shooting. He said that both were the result of the men’s fathers’ negligence in leaving firearms in the house.

When asked how this incident could be labelled as a “racist murder”, Phetoe said it formed part of the wave of violence against blacks by whites in the province. “The robbers did not have guns and were known by Swart,” said Phetoe. “He should have called the police.” Botma confirmed that the robbers were not in the possession of any weapons.

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When asked if Cosatu would still have labelled this as a racist murder if white people had tried to break into Swart’s bedroom, Phetoe said that Swart would not have shot at whites, but would not elaborate on how one determines race though a solid door. – David Steynberg