Free State farmer Attie Potgieter was stabbed and cut 151 times and took “many minutes” to die, while his wife and daughter were cut and shot in the head and neck, the Bloemfontein High Court heard on Wednesday.

“The deceased was tortured to death,” pathologist Dr Robert G Book said, when asked by State prosecutor Jannie Botha on his first impressions of Attie Potgieter's body.

Book was the first State witness to testify in the trial of six men accused of killing the family on their farm near Lindley in December 2010. He told the court his autopsy on the 40-year-old Lindley farmer revealed 151 stab and laceration wounds.

Potgieter’s wife, Wilna, 36, had several deep lacerations to the head and a gunshot wound to the neck.

Two-year-old Wilmien was shot in the back of the head. She had one cut on the head caused by a sharp instrument. Indications were that the woman and child were shot at close range, he said.

Six men, aged between 18 and 33, pleaded not guilty to three counts of murder one of robbery with aggravating circumstances and other charges relating to the illegal possession of firearms and ammunition.

They are Stemmer Mofokeng, 23, Tapa Mofokeng, 34, Paulus “Vusi” Khumalo, 23, Tshokolo Lelala, 19, Telleko Seekoei, 20, and Diphapang Motaung, 18, all from Lindley.

Testifying on the autopsy done on Attie Potgieter, Book said the injuries could have been caused by tools such as a garden fork, panga, spade or sharp knife, while other injuries could have been caused by a brick or stone.

He testified there were 51 head and face wounds and 84

lacerations on the body, of which 14 had the potential to incapacitate him. The court heard that Potgieter either died from loss of blood or swelling of the brain.

Book testified it probably took Potgieter “many minutes” to die.

The State handed in a short panga, used on farms for gardening, as evidence. The report on Potgieter and photos taken during the autopsies on the family were also handed in.

The State alleges the six attacked Potgieter outside his house with knives, a garden fork and a panga, killing him. They then attacked the woman and child inside the house and shot them, the State alleges.

On Wednesday Motaung, who was a minor at the time of the murders, entered a plea explanation. In it he indicates he was on the farm on the day the Potgieters were killed, but claims he had no knowledge of what was planned or going to happen.

In his plea, which was read into the record by his lawyer Leona

Smit, Motaung said after a sleepover at Khumalo’s house on the farm the night before, he was called to the farm house the next morning.

He was forced, and threatened with a firearm, to help move a man covered in blood, while a woman and child were present. He ran away after the woman and child were taken away and heard two shots, which he thought were fired at him for fleeing.

He was later given R500 to keep quiet, and was again threatened to be killed if he identified those involved, he claims.

The State called policemen to testify about what they found at the scene, and how some of the arrests were made.

State prosecutor Jannie Botha was expected to call forensic experts to testify on Thursday. -