Accused farmer’s R1 000 bail extended
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A FARM owner charged with beating a farmworker to a pulp and leaving him for dead last week for using a walkway through his farm is not allowed to speak to several witnesses before his next court appearance on Friday.
Workers allegedly fear Johannes Coetzee, 48, who has been charged with assault with intent to do grievous bodily harm to Lutzville farmworker Johannes Baadjies, 48.
Baadjies, who works on a neighbouring wine farm along the West Coast, suffered concussion, fractured jaw and lost several teeth.
His bloodshot eyes had still not cleared by yesterday.
Several farmworkers who saw the incident ran for safety and when they returned, hours later, found Baadjies in the sand in a pool of his own blood.
An ambulance they summoned took Baadjies to Vredendal Hospital.
Baadjies was discharged yesterday.
It's alleged Coetzee subsequently paid Baadjies R400 not to speak about the assault, but the farmworkers who saw the incident persuaded the victim to press charges.
Coetzee was arrested on Sunday and released on R1 000 bail the same night.
He is expected to appear in the Lutzville Magistrate’s Court again on Friday, and as part of his bail conditions is not allowed to speak to Baadjies and his fellow workers – Balic Olyn, Anna Olyn and Patrick Olifant.
Coetzee’s lawyer, Kobus Swanepoel, said they were still investigating and remained mum on details.
“It’s between me and my client,” Swanepoel said when asked about the incident.
In a charge sheet, Coetzee is accused of slapping, punching and kicking Baadjies while wearing shoes.
Rural and Farmworkers Development Organisation chairperson Billy Claasen received a call at the weekend from a concerned farmworker who requested him to help press charges.
It was further alleged Baadjies had indeed approached the police, but was told to return later.
Claasen said yesterday he was upset that Coetzee had received bail.
“The farmworkers called me to intervene because they are all scared for their lives. Not everyone has the privilege to be released the same night they are arrested for assault. This emphasises that farmworkers do not have rights on their own soil. This man could've died and it's like it doesn't matter,” Claasen said.
A separate case in Lutzville involving Martin Visser, 42, charged with murder and assault with the intent to cause grievous bodily harm following the death of Adam Pieterse, 32, is expected back in court on Thursday.
Pieterse’s decomposing body was found 18 months ago, and last month Visser was arrested and charged with his murder.
Pieterse was a migrant from Prieska and worked seasonally in the Lutzville district.
His family has not visited the death scene because they cannot afford the transport costs.
After more than a year and no arrests, Claasen previously said, he made contact with the police’s provincial office and the then acting deputy provincial commissioner, Jeremy Vearey, assigned a team of detectives to the case and the matter was brought to court.