The family of a street seller who was fatally shot in Paarl this week, is upset about him being labelled a fruit thief. Chatwell Rogers (40) died late afternoon on Tuesday, 30 November 2021 near a busy intersection in this Western Cape town. He succumbed to a single shotgun wound to the back.
The two men charged with his murder, Jan (JT) Basson and John Woest, appeared in the Paarl Magistrate’s Court today (Thursday, 2 December 2021), where their lawyer, William Booth, alleged that Rogers had stolen from their farms and others in the surrounds.
But an upset Dinah Rogers (65), Chatwell’s mother, says that this label is what hurts her most. “Where are the fruit? My child didn’t have fruit. My child didn’t steal fruit!”
She tells Food For Mzansi that she never expected to lose her son in such a violent way. “He was such a nice child. He was working with the Paarl Post, Die Son, and sometimes Die Burger. He would walk around and sell newspapers. That was his living. He made his money from that.”
The morning of his death, he went out with his girlfriend. “I wasn’t worried. He liked to be outdoors. He sometimes walked all over. Later she came back with a red bag with his stuff in, and she told me, ‘Aunty Dinah, a white man shot him’.”
Upon learning that he had been shot in the lower back, Rogers thought that her son would be paralysed, but when she got to the scene, he was already dead. “I sat against him until the paramedics came.” They couldn’t find a heartbeat.
She says one of the accused was still standing on the bridge at that stage, looking over at them. “I am very angry. That guy shot him in the back. Even [Chatwell] didn’t know he was going to die that way.
‘Justice must be done’
“The guys who did this must pay for what they did, because if we don’t stop them now, what will happen in future? I feel sorry [that] they are old but [when] they were shooting, they didn’t think about [being old]. From my point of view, he was aggressive and he was murderous.”
Brenda Johnson, Chatwell’s sister, recalls the last time she saw him before he died. “I still see him walking past me while I take the washing off the line. I’m saying ‘hello Rondawel’ – that’s his nickname – and he’s out the gate. That was the last time I saw my brother.”
Johnson says her brother was never an aggressive or violent person. To her, the way he died was at odds with the kind of person he is.
“He killed the wrong woman’s child,” says his mom. “They just walked into a wall. It is not right to hurt someone that much and then expect to get off lightly.”
Court case postponed
During the court appearance, the state said it was charging Basson and Woest on a schedule 6 offence because Rogers was not on the properties of the accused when he was shot, and was shot in the back while running away and thus not a threat to the two accused.
Booth was moving for a lesser schedule 5 offence, saying that Rogers had stolen from their farms and others in the surrounding area and that Basson did not shoot the deceased.
Basson and Woest will apply for bail when the case resumes on Monday, 6 December. The state intends to oppose bail.
Reacting to the incident, Agri Western Cape’s CEO Jannie Strydom said it was a tragic incident and extended condolences to the family of the deceased. He called on all relevant role players to prevent similar incidents in future. “We ask for people to remain calm and to let justice take its course.”
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