COURT PROTEST CHAOS
Farmers appear for ‘assault’ of girl, 9
RUBBER bullets and stun-grenades flew outside the Bronkhorstspruit Magistrate’s Court as hundreds of ANC and EFF members led a chaotic protest against what they termed “a disappointing” justice system.
Farmers Johannes Potgieter, 34, and Hendricks Dumas, 48, were appearing in court for allegedly kidnapping and assaulting a 9-year-old girl on September 9.
According to the family, the child and three other girls had been walking their dogs. They followed a stray dog into a farm, where the alleged attack took place.
While the other three managed to run away, the girl was caught, allegedly assaulted and had a rifle pointed and fired in her direction.
This traumatised the child, said her father, who cannot be named to protect her identity. “My daughter is not doing well at home and school because of this. You can see how she shivers at the sight of white people. She is scared even when we drive past the farm because it is on her way to school.”
According to charge sheet, the suspects forcefully handcuffed the minor to a tree, assaulted her with fists and fired a rifle in her direction.
They appeared in court soon after their arrests and were denied bail. However, after turning to the Gauteng High Court, Pretoria, they were granted bail.
Magistrate Jacob Tsatsi said he had denied the suspects bail on the basis that some of the witnesses were working for the suspects on the farm and he did not want them influenced.
The accused yesterday appeared in the dock in the presence of an angry crowd, facing charges of kidnapping, assault with intent to do grievous bodily harm, pointing of firearm and attempted murder.
The prosecution applied for a postponement for further investigation, which Tsatsi allowed. The matter will be back in court on March 13 next year.
After the postponement, the two men quickly exited the dock and ran. They disappeared before the crowd inside the court could get out of their seats.
Emotions and anger then took over as ANC and EFF members addressed Tsatsi directly, venting their frustration over the recent spate of attacks on black people by “racists” in Bronkhorstspruit.
They said they had been attending numerous cases where white people were hurting black people in racially motivated crimes, and were not happy with the way the justice system handled the cases.
They told the magistrate the suspects were “placed on a pedestal” and that while farmers staged “Black Monday” a fortnight ago, yesterday was “White Tuesday”.
Shortly after the accused disappeared, protesters started throwing stones, prompting a police nyala to rush in and secure the area.
Police officers managed to herd protesters into one area in front of the court.
EFF sub-regional convener Ganadhla Mabona said: “We support the family of the victim and we also want to voice concern at the way our people are being abused and mistreated by racist people in Bronkhorstspruit.
“We were also disappointed by the way the accused were granted bail without the family of the victim’s knowledge at a the high court after they were denied bail here,” he said.
Tshwane ANC Youth League leader Lesego Makhubela said they were unhappy the case had been postponed. He said the justice system was sluggish, despite the case being important to the community.
The crowds demanded that Matric Lupondo of the National Prosecuting Authority explain how and why the suspects were granted bail.
While they waited for Lupondo, they threw stones and bottles at the police who were safeguarding the entrance. The police subsequently, fired rubber bullets and stun-grenades.
The mother of the victim and her son emerged just as the rubber bullets were being shot. She was injured. She was rushed to hospital.
Scores of protesters were injured by rubber bullets while some were arrested. They were released after EFF and ANC members flocked to the Bronkhorstspruit police station. EFF member Olivier Mogoru wanted to open a case of malicious damage to property against police who shot and broke the window of a vehicle that belonged to fellow “fighter”, Michael Selala.
Amid the chaos, the crowds re-grouped in the CBD where the smell of gun powder hung low. They criticised the police for using excessive force. They said some of the people who were shot at did not provoke the police.
Lupondo said the department would soon explain why the accused were granted bail.
My daughter is not doing well at home and school because of this; she shivers at the sight of white people
Father of young girl
Johannes Potgieter and Hendrick Duma are accused of kidnapping and assaulting a 9-year-old girl. They ran out via the back door after their case was postponed to next year. PICTURES: BONGANI SHILUBANE/ANA
Police arrested some protesters at the Bronkhorstspruit Magistrate’s Court.