A Gauteng man who shot and killed his own son – whom he thought was a burglar – says the death of his child is punishment enough.
Coert Kruger, 52, was reacting to the Gauteng High Court in Pretoria’s ruling that a stiffer sentence be imposed following the accidental shooting of his son, also Coert, 30, in March 2019.
Kruger received a suspended prison sentence after the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) successfully appealed his initial sentence.
The Gauteng High Court in Pretoria upheld the appeal against the initial sentence of caution and discharge imposed on Kruger on 13 September 2019. In terms of the new sentence, Kruger now faces a sentence of eight years in prison, suspended for five years.
An emotional Kruger told Rapport that he was grateful that the matter had been brought to a conclusion.
“It doesn’t make things easier, but we can now start a new phase of rebuilding following that fateful day,” he reportedly said.
“My family and I find what happened difficult to deal with. The pain remains, but we try to focus on the positive.”
Kruger’s attorney, David Mey, told Rapport they accepted the ruling.
Figure moving in the roof
The shooting occurred on 22 March 2019 when Coert Jr broke into a house on his smallholding near Vanderbijlpark.
The alarm went off, so Kruger and a private security company went to investigate.
Kruger stood outside the house and saw a figure moving on the roof. It was dark and a searchlight was used to try to locate the person.
Kruger then fired a shotgun in the general direction of the figure and heard his son’s voice, expressing pain.
Realising what had happened, Kruger contemplated suicide, the court heard during his trial.
According to Vanderbijlpark police spokesperson Sergeant Gertrude Makhale, Kruger was arrested before his son’s corpse could be removed from the roof.
In 2019, Netwerk24 reported that Coert Jr was a drug addict who absconded from a facility he had been admitted to for rehabilitation in December 2018.
Following the shooting, stolen jewellery was found in his possession.
In September last year, Kruger was released on a warning without jail time. The death of his son was punishment enough, Magistrate Robert Button said.
The State appealed to the High Court, submitting that the “sentence was shockingly inappropriate”.
The court found that the first sentence was based on an overemphasis of the effect of the crime on the accused’s psyche.
“The court underemphasised the fact that the respondent fired a firearm in the direction of the deceased without any imminent danger or threat to his own life as there was no evidence that the deceased was armed,” Judge Elmarie van der Schyff found.
The NPA accepted the court’s decision.
– Compiled by Riaan Grobler