'You are going to k*k' - farm worker claims farmer threatened him if he spilled the beans about murder

2018-05-08 20:49
Martin Visser, accused of murder, assault with intent to inflict grievous bodily harm and assault. (Tammy Petersen, News24)

Martin Visser, accused of murder, assault with intent to inflict grievous bodily harm and assault. (Tammy Petersen, News24)

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After the body of murdered farm worker Adam Pieterse was retrieved from a shallow grave on a Lutzville farm, his friend remained silent about the role he had played to dispose of the body after the farmer accused of the murder, threatened him, the Western Cape High Court heard on Tuesday.

"He told me [and Patrick 'Oom Grom' Klein], that if we mentioned his name to the police, we were going to k*k," Frans "Boetie" Klaase told Judge Nathan Erasmus.

"[Martin Visser] told us he was going to come kill us [if we said what had happened] after we buried him."

Klaase alleged that Visser had assaulted Pieterse at his farm house, claiming the man had owed him money.

Visser, who runs Dassieshoek farm, sold groceries and alcohol on credit, which had to be paid when the workers received their wages.

On Monday, he 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.

The court is sitting in Vredendal.

Pieterse was murdered in February 2015. His body had been in an advanced stage of decomposition, which affected the confirmation of the cause of his death.

Klaase said he and Klein had been drinking with Pieterse at his home that day when Visser stormed in and used a spade to assault him.

He then allegedly tied Pieterse's lifeless body by the feet to the back of his quad bike and dragged him for a short distance before loading him onto the back grill of the four-wheeler and forcing the farm worker's two friends to help him dispose of the body.

Pieterse's remains were recovered three weeks after his murder behind the accused's father's vineyard. It was buried in a shallow grave, which Klaase claimed Visser had forced them to dig.

After the discovery, Klaase said Visser had threatened and warned him and Klein not to tell the police what had happened.

A year and a half after the murder, Klaase was approached by the police and told them his version of what had happened to his friend that night.

He testified that he had previously only told detectives of a prior incident, in which Visser had looked for Pieterse and asked him if he had seen "daai hoerkind, Mannetjie (that bastard, Mannetjie)" because he "wil hom sommer vrek maak (wants to kill him)".

The statement he gave police at the time - which did not mention that he knew that his friend was dead and where his body had been buried - was given to him during court proceedings, but had to be read out by Erasmus as Klaase had no formal schooling and could not read well.

He testified that "Mannetjie Dukvreet", as Pieterse was known, had never worked for Visser, but for his father Chris and brother Tertius.

Klaase - who along with Klein had worked for Chris at the time of the murder - claimed Pieterse had quit his job with Tertius after his employer had assaulted him.

But defence attorney Asghar Mia said Chris would testify that Pieterse left because he was constantly drunk at work and had a substance abuse problem.

Klaase responded that his friend indeed drank, but that he had witnessed the assault himself, which resulted in Pieterse not returning to work.

Erasmus appealed to both the defence and prosecution to "take [the situation] in context", explaining that it was easy for someone from Klaase's background and lack of education to "just say yes" when questioned.

He explained to Klaase prior to his testimony, that he could be implicated as an accessory after the fact, perjury for withholding information during the initial investigation, and the obstruction of justice.

However, he could be indemnified in accordance with Section 204 of the Criminal Procedure Act if the judge was satisfied that he had been honest and sincere when he gave evidence.

The trial continues on Wednesday.

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