Pretoria - The white man told another man who worked at the farm to fetch something, and he came back with “those things police tie criminals with when they arrest them”.
These were the words of the 9-year-old girl from Zithobeni, near Bronkhorstspruit. She was allegedly assaulted and tied to a tree on a farm, she said in her statement to police.
The girl accused Schierpoort farm owner Johannes Potgieter and his employee Hendrick Dumas of assaulting her last Saturday morning.
The two appeared in the Bronkhorstspruit Magistrate’s Court on Wednesday for a bail application, while members of the public demonstrating outside. The case will continue tomorrow.
The girl suffered scratches on her left wrist, a cut on her index finger, scratches on both her knees and a scratch on her chin. Her mother reported that she was shaky and scared.
On the day, it was reported that three boys between the ages of 12 and 14 had decided to take their three dogs for a walk in Zithobeni.
They came across the young girl and walked with her until the dogs went crazy over birds they saw and chased after them.
The group jumped over a fence to look for the dogs, only to be greeted with gunshots. The three boys ran and left the girl behind.
“While we were looking for our dogs, we saw white males. We then decided to hide in the trees, but the white males approached us. I ran; that’s when I fell and I saw one of the man carrying a big gun. He reached out and grabbed my arm,” the girl said in her statement.
“And then the man slapped me with an open hand I fell to the ground. He then ordered me to jump the fence to go to the tree near the house. He then slapped me again with an open hand,” she added.
The prosecution asked why the girl was taken to the tree instead of home, but the accused said they wanted to question why she and the boys were there.
The suspects claimed they told them they were hunting for springboks on the game farm. They told the court they did not assault the minor.
The girl said one of the men told the other to fetch something, but she could not understand what it was. The second man then brought handcuffs.
“They tied me to the tree with the handcuffs. He then slapped me again. The other man then put the gun on my forehead and threatened that if we ever come again they are going to kill us. I was untied and told to run after that they shot at me while I ran,” she said.
The child’s mother, who cannot be named to protect the identity of the victim, said she was heartbroken to see her daughter in that state. “She was so scared she even urinated on herself; she was shaking. How can such huge men slap a small child? How can they do that? Justice must be served,” the teary mom said.
She said she was relaxing at home not knowing her child was in hell on the day and only heard of what had happened when the child arrived home and told her.
The people of Bronkhorstspruit were furious and demonstrated outside the court. They have signed a petition with more than 100 signatures calling for the two not to be released on bail.
MEC for Community Safety Sizakele Nkosi-Malobane, who was among the protesters, said those who had money for legal fees were often freed. “Let everyone be treated the same irrespective of their colour, especially when it comes to cases that involve women and vulnerable children. It is totally wrong to assault minors,” she said.