Road rage accused cough up R5.4m, case withdrawn - report

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A rich businessman and his two friends accused of nearly killing a couple in a road rage incident bought their freedom from prosecution for R5.4m, Rapport reported on Sunday.

Hanno Bierman, 31, who is in the mining industry, together with Pieter de Beer, 29, and Hannes Viljoen, 28, last week walked away from the eMalahleni Magistrate's Court free men after complainants Willem Potgieter and his wife Santie requested the withdrawal of the attempted murder, unlicensed possession of a firearm and reckless driving charges against the three.

The publication had previously reported that Willem had been in a coma for 10 days after he was beaten with a lyfband and gun behind his head on July 20.

The Potgieters had been on their way from a restaurant when Willem hooted at a vehicle which skipped a red light on the N12.

According to Santie, four men in the bakkie had forced them off the road. Willem had ostensibly fired warning shots, but the men had taken his pistol and assaulted the couple.

Medical debt and legal costs led to the decision to drop the complaint, which the couple's lawyer confirmed to the publication would see them receive R5.4m as part of a larger settlement.

Willem needed reconstructive surgery, his front teeth had been knocked out, he was unable to walk for two months and he was temporarily blind, Rapport reported.

The mine electrician said he lived on pain medication, the right side of his face was paralysed and he couldn’t frown, smile, or even open his mouth properly.

He has been unable to work and had had to dig into his pension for his medical and legal costs, Willem said.

Johan van Staden, the accused’s lawyer, said "all parties usually play a role or a contributing role" to incidents like these when asked of the attack and whether they had apologised to the Potgieters.

A week before the charge was withdrawn, police confirmed that two other charges were laid against Bierman and De Beer following an incident at a local bar where a man and woman were allegedly assaulted.

The bar owner Nic Grobler said his son Nicholas had been assaulted and his laptop and cellphone tossed into a dam.

The damage was worth about R20 000, but he has since been reimbursed. 

The case had also been withdrawn and Bierman had ostensibly fixed everything he had broken, Grobler said.

His girlfriend, Charne Snyman, said she recorded the assault on Nicholas and that Bierman had assaulted her when he saw this, before throwing her cellphone into the dam.

He had later allegedly offered to buy her a new phone and asked what he could do to fix things, her father Neels told the publication.

They refused the offer of a new phone and would not withdraw the charge on principle, he told Rapport.

Van Staden denied that his client attacked the two, saying that it was alleged that there had been various people involved.

He said his clients could not be held responsible for third parties’ behaviour.

- Compiled by Tammy Petersen

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