Martin Visser Photo: Facebook

A Lutzville farmer has been found guilty of killing a farmworker, who was first hit with a spade, then dragged along by a quad bike and buried behind the smallholding of Martin Visser’s father three years ago. He has also been found guilty of two counts of assault.

Rural and Farmworkers Development president Billy Claasen testified that “it was possible that he was still alive while he was being buried”.

Judge Nathan Erasmus handed down his verdict in the Western Cape High Court, sitting in Vredendal, on Tuesday, News24 reported. Visser, 43, had pleaded not guilty to charges of murder, assault with intent to inflict grievous bodily harm and four charges of common assault of three other people.

Visser was arrested a year and a half after the remains of Adam Pieterse, 32, who worked on a neighbouring farm, was found in vineyards in March 2015.

The cause of death of "Mannetjie Dukvreet", as he was commonly known, could not be confirmed owing to the state of the corpse. Pathologist Dr Esme Erasmus said his remains had been in an advanced state of decomposition. Pieterse had cuts on his scalp, and his brain was too decomposed to be assessed.

The State's two main witnesses were Pieterse's friends, Patrick Klein and Frans Klaase, who said Visser had forced them to help dispose of his body.

The trio had been drinking at Pieterse's house the night of his murder. Visser, according to them, stormed in and started hitting their friend, claiming he owed him money. The accused ran a shop from the garage of his farmhouse, selling groceries and wine on credit. 

The two had said they had not tried to intervene during the attack because they had been too afraid.

Visser had instructed them to help him get their friend's lifeless body through the back window and onto a quad bike. They drove to the back of De Hoek Farm, where the farmer ordered them to dig a grave for Pieterse. The two witnesses were the employees of Visser's father at the time. 

In their testimony, they alleged that Visser threatened them into keeping quiet about what had happened that night.

Pieterse's remains were discovered by police three weeks later after farmworker Hendrina "Mooimeit" Jonkers twice saw Visser in the vicinity and noticed flies buzzing around the disturbed earth when she had a closer look.

Visser was further found guilty of assault with intent to inflict grievous bodily harm for stabbing Kleintjie Moses with a bottle neck at the barracks in Lutzville on Christmas Eve 2011. Moses had tried to intervene during an altercation between the farmer and a woman when he was attacked.