The EFF has welcomed a judgment and sentencing that saw a Western Cape farmer who was found guilty of murder and two counts of assault on Tuesday and sentenced to life on Wednesday.
The party in a statement called the murder “brutal, senseless and hateful”.
“Too many deaths of black farmworkers at the hands of white, racist farmers are unaccounted for,” the statement continued.
Martin Visser, a farmer in Lutzville, was handed the life sentence after he beat his farmworker Adam Pieterse to death with a spade, dragged him with a quad bike and then, after the worker succumbed to his injuries, buried him behind his father’s smallholding in 2015, News24 reported.
The 43-year-old owner of the Dassieshoek farm pleaded not guilty to the charges of murder and assault with intent to inflict grievous bodily harm. In an indication that this was not his first offence, he was also accused of assaulting three other workers.
He was also found guilty of stabbing another worker, Kleintjie Moses, with a bottleneck in 2011 after the worker tried to intervene to stop an altercation between Visser and a woman.
The EFF sees the incident as reflective of a general lack of justice for black farmworkers.
“The reality is that many white-owned farms in South Africa still operate in a state of lawlessness, where black people remain without basic rights characteristic of colonial times. The lives of black people continue to be assaulted, burned, tortured, exploited and killed with impunity by white racists who believe themselves to be above the law,” the party’s statement reads.
Pieterse’s body found in a state
The corpse of ‘Mannetjie Dukvreet’, as Pieterse was commonly known, was reportedly in such a state that the exact cause of death could not be confirmed. It has also been reported his genitals and perineum had been mutilated after his death.
Two of the state’s main witnesses were friends of Pieterse, who say Visser forced them to help dispose of his body.
The pair were drinking with their friend at his house when Visser burst in claiming Pieterse owed him money, and began assaulting him.
Visser sold groceries and alcohol on credit to his workers from his garage, and accused the deceased of not having paid him, as he was expected to after receiving his wages on Friday.
The two witnesses, Patrick Klein and Frans Klaase, who were at the time employed by Visser’s father, also a farmer, said they were too afraid to stop Visser from assaulting Pieterse.
Pieterse’s remains were discovered two weeks after his death when another worker, Hendrina ‘Mooimeit’ Jonkers, noticed Visser in the vicinity of where the corpse was found twice and saw flies surrounding the area where Pieterse was buried.
This was not the first time Visser had assaulted Pieterse. He was convicted of assault in January 2015 and released on R800 bail. According to police reports, Pieterse was confronted for laying the first assault charge and strangled by Visser inside his house in February, just weeks before he was killed by the farmer.
Judge Nathan Erasmus noted the police did nothing after the first assault charge was laid.
“I wonder if the police had acted the way they were supposed to, we would have been here today,” he said.
The EFF said they wished for Pieterse’s soul to “find dignity and tranquillity, knowing that his murderer will never again walk the African streets”.