Flippie trial: ‘I saw farmer beat him’

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Copy of ca p6 Flippie Papenfus_4963 INLSA Flippie Engelbrecht, right, and his brother-in-law outside Worcester Magistrates Court during a break in proceedings. Photo: Jason Boud

Cape Town - Flippie Engelbrecht was punched four times on each side of his head while his father was dangled upside down under water on the orders of the farm owner and manager.

This was a witness’s testimony in the Worcester Magistrate’s Court in a case that has finally gone to trial six years after the events that the teen victim claimed left him blind and epileptic.

The trial of the Rietvallei farm manager, Wilhelm Treurnicht, began on Thursday. Farm owner Johnny Burger, who was set to be a second accused, committed suicide last September, leaving Treurnicht to face the charges alone.


Dawid Lewis, who worked at Rietvallei at the time of the alleged assault, said he witnessed Engelbrecht’s brutal beating and torment of his father in January 2008.

Lewis was driving a vehicle of his co-workers, including Flippie and his father Flip, to the farm cellar, shortly after Flip had been fired and his son had made an enraged phone call to the farm manager threatening to shoot him. When they arrived at the cellar, Burger allegedly told Treurnicht to “donner (beat)” Flippie.

Lewis said Treurnicht grabbed Flippie by the chest, punched him four times on the left side of his head then changed arms and punched him four times on the right.

Meanwhile, Burger ordered the other workers to take Flip to the cellar’s cold room, where they held him by his legs and dunked his head under water.

When the attack was over, Flip threatened to lay a charge with police, while Flippie, bleeding from his nose, cradled his head on the stoep.

A few days later, Burger summoned the workers and told them if they wanted a job and a place to live, they would not speak about the assault.

When detectives came to the farm to take statements, Lewis denied any attack.

But last year, when Flip raised the case once more, Lewis was no longer employed at Rietvallei and decided to speak out.

Pieter Botha, for Treurnicht, cross-examined Lewis, highlighting discrepancies in the dates and details of Lewis’s account. After a video was shown to court of Flippie telling his own version of events, Botha said they did not match Lewis’s account.

The trial continues on Friday.

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Cape Argus

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