Black lawyers ready to tackle cocky racist farmer

Cecil Motsepe

Cecil Motsepe

The Black Lawyers Association has reacted with fury after reading a Sowetan report about a farmer who is said to be terrorising a black community with impunity - because he enjoys the protection of the local magistrate.

We revealed that Derick James Steyn, who owns a farm in Meyerton in the Vaal, was arrested after his domestic worker, Thembi Ndlovu, accused him of assaulting her.

Our investigations found that though Steyn had previous convictions for a similar offence, he had been getting away with just a rap over the knuckles - allegedly because of his relationship with Marius Serfontein, the only magistrate in town.

The Black Lawyers Association said: "We are concerned with the lack of respect for our judicial process, particularly the upholding of justice without fear or favour.

We will conduct an investigation and take action against anyone who is found to be encouraging these alleged human rights abuses."

Ndlovu's lawyer, Godfrey Machimana, said after the Sowetan report was published he received further complaints about Serfontein and Steyn's relationship.

"I am happy with the support pouring in from my colleagues in the legal fraternity, both black and white. I was also inundated with calls from people who said they had seen even worse things happen but didn't have the courage to take a stand against a magistrate."

Sowetan has also reliably learnt that the office of the national directorate of public prosecutions was "extremely" interested in the matter.

Ndlovu said she was beaten by Steyn because she had quit her job. The 45-year-old farmer was charged with assault with intent to do grievous bodily harm.

Despite having two previous convictions for the same offence he was released without a formal bail hearing.

This forced Machimana to lodge an application for the case to be moved to the Vereeniging court - on the grounds that the Meyerton magistrate "might interfere" with the case.

"I got information the magistrate and the accused are friends."