‘Money won’t bring son back’

Estelle Ellis

A GRIEVING mother said yesterday she would rather have her son back instead of the more than R1.6-million she was awarded following his tragic death.

The Port Elizabeth High Court ordered the police to pay her R1.25-million in damages after they gunned down her son, Angelo Mackonie, 17. This occurred after she had asked the police to speak to him. The police were also ordered to pay about R400000 in interest.

Kamesh community leader Jacoline Maart said she was happy and sad at the same time, but felt overwhelmingly grateful for the assistance of her counsel, Pieter Mouton and Nicola Barnard, and her attorney, Wilma van der Bank.

Compounding the tragic incident, the judgment by Judge Glenn Goosen came days after a Uitenhage magistrate acquitted the police reservist who gunned Angelo down on a charge of murder, saying he could not believe that anybody would do something like that.

Magistrate Willie Monk found Humphrey Lombard, who shot Mackonie in the head, not guilty on a charge of murder in the criminal matter.

While Goosen, in the civil matter in the high court highlighted the tragedy of what had happened in his judgment, the true horror of Mackonie’s death unfolded in Monk’s judgment as he described how the teenager, an avid musician also known as Pietman, was surrounded by policemen, sprayed with pepper spray and then shot in the back of the head while trying to run away.

Maart had asked the police to speak to her son on Father’s Day two years ago after he went drinking instead of going to church.

But Maart said her faith in God had carried her through the past few years. “I miss my child so very much. It just does not want to go away,” she said.

During the criminal trial the state only called three witnesses, one being the pathologist who did the postmortem.

Monk found that Mackonie was being “difficult” and “aggressive” and had made a “stabbing motion” in the direction of the police members with what later turned out to be bread knife. In response, the 10 police reservists surrounded him, sprayed him with pepper spray and then, when he managed to run away, Lombard shot him in the head.

Monk was scathing about Mackonie’s actions, asking in his judgment: “Why did he act like that? What was wrong with him? How can a person act like that?”

In contrast, he said of Lombard: “It is difficult for me to accept that a policeman will, in full view of a huge group of people, just gun down a child in the back of the head like that. I don’t know who is speaking the truth. In the light of the evidence before me I cannot find that Lombard shot Mackonie in cold blood like that.”

Monk further said he also did not understand why the state failed to bring more witnesses to the court.

“There were so many people there and not one was brought to court to testify,” he said.

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