Tensions high in Groblersdal as two farmers appear in assault case

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The Groblersdal Magistrate’s Court has postponed to next Wednesday an assault case against two farmers who allegedly assaulted and set dogs on a farm security officer. Sixty-three-year-old Piet Groenewald and 27-year-old Stephen Grief each face a charge of assault with intent to cause grievous bodily harm in a case that’s believed to be racially motivated.

They allegedly assaulted, injected with an unknown substance and set dogs on 30-year-old Veneruru Kavari.

The small town of Groblersdal was today reduced to two battle fields. Police had their hands full maintaining law and order. They cordoned off the court precinct. On one end of the cordoned off area, a group that waved the old Transvaal government flags gathered.

“We carry the four colour flag with no racist background or nothing, it’s just solidarity to the farmers and people that are Afrikaans, and yes we are here today just to make sure that those two men get bail,” says FF Plus Limpopo leader Marcelle Maritz.

“We are here today to that we don’t want to allow things happening in different ways, everybody need to be handled the same. I think these kinds of things are being politically driven and we can’t do that, we need to fight crime and we need to fight it on the same level and handle it the same,” says Coenie Meyer of the Groblersdal Landlike Veiligheid.

On the other end, a group that wearing EFF and ANC T-shirts demanded that the suspects be denied bail.

“We are saying that we promote that the people of this town must co-exist, we are just surprised that there are flags that we don’t know, flags that represent former government prior 1994 and we are saying to that we see it as a middle finger to the democratic government and we will never allow it,” says ANC Sekhukhune Region Spokesperson Sam Owane.

“We are here to support the workers who were bitten by dogs but also to protest against the granting of bail, to our surprise as we arrive here, we saw a lot of racist converging here supporting the suspects and we believe that that doesn’t bode well for creating a cohesive society,” says Cosatu Limpopo Secretary Hangwani Mashau.

“The EFF is here to drive the racists out of Groblersdal. As the EFF we are saying any form of racism we want to drive out and we want to make sure that Piet Groenewald doesn’t get bail,” says EFF Sekhukhune Chairperson Ali Maloba.

In court, the investigating officer on the matter took to the witness stand to oppose bail. He told court that 27-year-old Stephen Greef was previously apprehended on a charge of attempted murder.

The charge has been provisionally withdrawn pending the release of a ballistic report. The officer also stated the 63-year-old Piet Groenewald had a previous conviction of attempted murder. The investigating officer told court that he feared the suspects would not be safe if released on bail.

“I realised that looking at the messages that they are getting and the calls that Mrs Groenewald got, it means that their lives are in danger, or they are not safe at all. Now if the court released them on bail, it would mean that they are releasing them into the lion’s den because the community is enraged, they should look at their safety,” says investigating officer Gregory Maliasenya.

Under cross examination, the  defence questioned whether the officer has been able to personally verify threats to the suspects’ life.

“If I understand you correctly your main reason for opposing bail is that you’re concerned about the safety of the applicants, did anybody make any specific threats to you?” asks defense lawyer Advocate Casparus Van Wyk.

Earlier, one person was arrested as he attempted to force his way into the courtyard.

The bail application is expected to resume on Januray 31st.

Video: Tensions high outside Groblersdal Magistrate’s Court in Limpopo ahead of farmworker assault case: