De Villiers, Leon & Goosen, David

Constable David Goosen, aged 27, and Warrant Officer Leon de Villiers, aged 37, showed no emotion as sentence was passed. They were charged on two counts of murder over events in the black section of Cradock, a small town in the eastern Cape, during July, 1986. They were acquitted on one count, but found guilty of the premeditated killing of Mlungisi Stuurman who was just 18 years old.

They were both sentenced to death for the beating and murder of the black youth at the height of black unrest two years before. The Supreme Court, sitting in Grahamstown, on the 27 May 1988 found that Warrant Officer Leon de Villiers and Pc David Goosen had deliberately planned the murder of Mlungisi Stuurman, 18, because they had beaten him so severely that they had not dared let him go free.

Mr Justice Zeitsman said the two had gone on a 'beating expedition' between heavy bouts of drinking with other members of their anti-riot squad. According to the evidence, the squad drank heavily, conducted a blood-oath ceremony swearing themselves to secrecy, and then made unauthorised night forays into black townships during which several blacks were attacked. Mr Stuurman was one of a group of young blacks arrested at random and beaten when the squad was monitoring a township funeral in the eastern Cape Province town of Cradock, where there had been black unrest. He was so badly injured that de Villiers told Goosen he should be 'taken out'.

David Goosen took the youth to a quiet riverbank, shot him through the neck and threw him into the water, the court was told. Evidence against the two policemen was given by former members of their squad.

The judge dismissed pleas in mitigation on behalf of de Villers and Goosen, who both pleaded not guilty. Mr Chris Jansen, defending, had said that Goosen had felt rejected by his mother all his life, and had been vilified by his colleagues because his skin was dark. He was often taken for a black. Mr Jansen also said that since his arrest, de Villiers had lost weight and Goosen's hair had started turning grey. The two showed no emotion as the death sentences were pronounced, but their wives sobbed and court orderlies wept. If the death sentences were carried out, it would be the first time white policemen will have been hanged for the murder of a black.

The death sentence was later repreived, David Goosen had his sentence commuted to 15 years for doing the killing and De Villers was given 20 years for ordering it. They were both freed at the beginning of July 1991 after serving only 3 years.

Patrick Goosen

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