As­sault ac­cused de­nied bail

Cape Times - - NEWS - Matlhatsi Dibakwane

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.

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