Assault accused denied bail
THE two men who allegedly assaulted a girl, now aged 10, were denied bail partly on the basis of a public outcry when they made their second appearance in the Bronkhorstspruit Magistrate’s Court yesterday.
The girl was allegedly assaulted by two farmers in Zithobeni last weekend.
Yesterday, her mother took the stand.
The woman, whose identity cannot be revealed to protect the identity of the victim, said her daughter told her “Mama, those white men fired shots at me; they shot at me” on the day of the alleged attack. She was 9 at the time, but celebrated her birthday during the week.
Johannes Potgieter and Heinrich Dumas have been charged with assault, kidnapping, attempted murder and the pointing of a firearm at a child. The alleged incident happened at Potgieter’s farm, Schierpoort.
According to the investigating officer, Peter Machebe, a doctor examined the child and found scratch marks on her right abdomen, left arm, a cut on her left index finger, multiple scratches on her knee and another on her lower leg.
The pair are accused of firing shots in the direction of four minors, two of whom were siblings.
The three boys escaped, but the girl remained behind and was allegedly handcuffed to a tree and slapped many times.
Before she was allowed to leave and told to run away, one of the accused allegedly pointed a gun at her head and told her never to come back to the farm, and that she would be killed if she did.
She said in her statement to the police that she believed she was running for her life, as shots were fired in her direction. According to her mother, the child was terrified.
“She was so traumatised she had urinated on herself. She was shaky and scared,” the mother told the court. “On Tuesday, her school principal called me and said she was emotional and was crying at school.”
She told the court that her children were beyond traumatised; they had not even slept in their room, but had been sleeping with her the entire week.
“My son doesn’t sleep at night; he has nightmares of being shot at, in which he can’t move or run away,” she said.
Last Sunday, the mother and her children accompanied the police to the farm to arrest the two men. Even then, the girl was afraid and said she did not feel safe.
“When we entered the farm she was shaky, and she held on to my arm in that police van. Those men were loud when they interacted with the police. However, the police remained calm,” she said.
She said the girl calmed down when she saw her brother and father enter the farm.
“She felt safe once she saw them.”
The mother said Dumas had admitted to the police that he handcuffed the girl to the tree, and that he only did that as he’d had a spine operation and was afraid that she might run away.
This was contrary to what Potgieter said, when he told the court they only took her to the tree to question her, and afterwards let her go.
In denying them bail, the magistrate cited the public outcry. he added that the two had the right to bail, but by taking the stand they had complicated the matter, “because by doing so they introduced the merits of the trial”.
Outside, the father of the victim thanked members of the public and various organisations that had supported the family.
“To the whole community, I thank you for the support you gave to my family. Let us unite and be one,” he said.
Members of the EFF, Sanco, ANC, DA and Cosatu were at the court supporting the family. They sang Struggle songs and held placards with messages such as “We demand justice”.
Cosatu’s Nkitseng Mokoena said: “We are witnessing yet again the defiance of a small minority.
“There are still white people who are resisting the call for unity. But we are not going to be divided by a small minority of individuals.”
The accused will return to court on November 14.