GIRL AS­SAULT: FARM­ERS DE­NIED BAIL

Re­fusal partly mo­ti­vated by pub­lic out­cry, says mag­is­trate

Pretoria News - - FRONT PAGE - 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.

Ear­lier, the mother of the girl, who was al­legedly as­saulted by two white farm­ers in Zithobeni last week­end, took the stand.

The woman, who can­not be named 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 aged nine at the time, but cel­e­brated her birth­day mid­week.

Jo­hannes Pot­gi­eter and Hein­rich Du­mas have been charged with as­sault, kid­nap­ping, at­tempted mur­der and the point­ing of firearm at the child.

The al­leged in­ci­dent hap­pened on Pot­gi­eter’s farm, Schier­poort.

Ives­ti­ga­tion of­fi­cer Peter Machebe said a doc­tor ex­am­ined the child and found scratch marks on her right ab­domen, left arm and mid­dle arm, a cut on her in­dex fin­ger on left arm, and mul­ti­ple scratches on her knee and legs.

The pair are ac­cused of fir­ing shots in the di­rec­tion of four mi­nors, two of whom were sib­lings.

Af­ter three of the chil­dren – boys – es­caped, the girl re­mained be­hind and was al­legedly hand­cuffed to a tree and slapped with open hands mul­ti­ple times.

Be­fore she was al­lowed to leave and told to run fast, the ac­cused al­legedly pointed a gun to her head and told to never to re­turn to the farm and that she would be killed if she did.

She said in her state­ment to po­lice that she ran for her life, as shots were fired in her di­rec­tion.

Her mother said the child was shaky.

“She was so trau­ma­tised, she had uri­nated on her­self.

“She was shaky and she was scared,” the mother tes­ti­fied. “On Tues­day, her school prin­ci­pal called me and said she was emo­tional and cry­ing at school.”

Her chil­dren were be­yond trau­ma­tised, the mother said. They did not sleep in their room but with her the en­tire week.

“My son doesn’t sleep at night; he has night­mares of be­ing shot at, but he can’t move or run away,” she said.

Last Sun­day, the mother and her chil­dren ac­com­pa­nied 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; she held on to my arm. Those men were loud when they in­ter­acted with po­lice.

“How­ever, the po­lice re­mained calm,” the mother told the court.

She said the girl calmed down once she saw her brother and fa­ther en­ter­ing the farm.

She had called them for sup­port.

“She felt safe once she saw them and she kind of felt pro­tected.”

The mother said Du­mas ad­mit­ted to po­lice that he hand­cuffed the girl to the tree.

That he did as he had a spine op­er­a­tion and was afraid she might run away.

This was con­trary to what Pot­gi­eter tes­ti­fied. He said he only took her to the tree by the house to ques­tion her and af­ter­wards let her go.

Deny­ing them bail, the mag­is­trate citied the pub­lic out­cry, adding that the two had a right to bail, but by tak­ing the stand they com­pli­cated the mat­ter, “be­cause they in­tro­duced mer­its of the trial”. Out­side, the fa­ther of the vic­tim thanked the pub­lic and var­i­ous or­gan­i­sa­tions.

“To the whole com­mu­nity, I thank you for the sup­port you gave to my fam­ily.”

Mem­bers of the EFF, Sanco, ANC, DA and Cosatu were inside and out­side court sup­port­ing the fam­ily.

Cosatu’s Nk­it­seng Mokoena said: “We are wit­ness­ing yet again the de­fi­ance of the small mi­nor­ity. There are still white peo­ple who are test­ing the call for unity.” The ac­cused will be back in court on Novem­ber 14.

PIC­TURE: OUPA MOKOENA/ANA

Jo­hannes Pot­gi­eter and Hein­rich Du­mas, who al­legedly as­sault a girl last week­end, were de­nied bail in the Bronkhorstspruit Mag­is­trate’s Court.

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