Five farmers from Parys in the Free State have been convicted on charges of common assault, and assault with intent to cause grievous bodily harm, which led to the death of two farmworkers.
Judge Corne van Zyl found Gert van der Westhuizen, Anton Loggenberg, both aged 53, Lodewikus van der Westhuizen, 22, Cornelius Loggenberg, 23, and Gert van Vuuren, 26, guilty in the Free State High Court on Friday, regional National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) spokesperson Phaladi Shuping said.
Gert van der Westhuizen and Anton Loggenberg were found guilty on one count of common assault and one count of assault with intent to cause grievous bodily harm.
Lodewikus van der Westhuizen was convicted on two counts of assault with intent to cause grievous bodily harm and one count of defeating the ends of justice.
Cornelius Loggenberg and Van Vuuren were both found guilty on one count of assault with intent to cause grievous bodily harm.
Shuping said that, according to evidence presented in court, the two farm workers – Simon Tjixa, 35, and Simon Jubeba, 29 – had gone to their employer Loedie van der Westhuizen’s house to demand their salaries on 6 January, 2016.
This was after they had not been paid for work in November 2015.
A confrontation ensued at Van der Westhuizen’s Kocksrust farm, resulting in him alerting a security company of an attack on his farm.
“This was done through activating an alarm system. When the alarm went off, it also alerted neighbouring farmers, who converged at the scene,” Shuping said.
A group of local farmers then tracked and confronted Tjixa and Jubeba about eight kilometres from the farm, where they were assaulted before being handed over to the police.
Shuping said Tjixa was admitted to the Parys Provincial Hospital and Jubeba was transported to the Pelonomi Hospital in Bloemfontein.
Jubeba was declared dead on arrival, while Tjixa died a day later.
The sixth accused in the matter, 49-year-old Hendrik Prinsloo, who was a police officer at the time of the incident, was acquitted on all counts, Shuping added.
Sentencing proceedings have been postponed to 24 August 2020.