farmer to face law 13 years on

IN DECEMBER of 1997 Johannes Thole was beaten up so severely that he went blind and lost the function of one kidney.

Two senior prosecutors declined to prosecute the farmer who did it.

But yesterday, 13 years later, Thole was happy. The national prosecuting authority has informed him and his cousin, George Nduli, that they have reopened their case and that farmer Frans Marx would finally appear in court.

"It has been a long time. But I do not mind at all that I waited. At last the wheels of justice are turning. I am happy," Thole said.

Thole was 24 years old at the time while his cousin was 25.

The office of the national director of public prosecutions says it has investigated the matter and is satisfied that there is enough evidence against Marx and those who helped him and that they should stand trial.

Thole, now 37, and Nduli, 38, of Lebaleng in Wolmaransstad, North West, opened a case of assault against the farmer and three others after they were beaten up.

The two men were taking a message to their uncle who lived in a nearby farm when a bakkie pulled up next to them. Thole said the driver of the car, whom they knew as Frans Marx, drew a gun and threatened to shoot them.

"We were walking on the road when a bakkie with six white men stopped next to us. They asked what we were doing on the road. Before we could explain where we were going, the four men sitting at the back alighted and assaulted us," he said.

The assault left Thole blind and one of his kidneys damaged.

"I have to go to the toilet from time to time because if I don't, I wet myself," he said.

He said Marx hit them with the butt of a gun several times, over the head while the others were hitting them with fists and kicking them.

"I fell down but they beat me until I was unconscious," Thole said.

He said he spent six weeks in hospital.

"When I regained consciousness I realised that I could not see but I thought it was because I was sedated," he said.

Thole said the police came to fetch him from the hospital and charged him with assault. He was later released on free bail.

"Even today I don't know why I was charged," he said.

Nduli said he also lost consciousness during the assault.

"My head was swollen and my back was numb. Even today I still feel pains in my back," he said.

He said they opened a case of assault but it did not go anywhere.

NPA spokesperson Mthunzi Mhaga said Marx was facing two counts of attempted murder, one count of pointing a firearm and a further charge of defeating the ends of justice.

Marx was arrested on January 25 2010 and appeared in the Wolmaransstad district court, where he was granted bail of R2000.

"The NPA will ensure that the constitutionally entrenched right to equality before the law is upheld and that all citizens are treated fairly by our justice system regardless of their race, gender, creed and sexual orientation," said Mhaga.

He said the NPA received representations from the two men who were not happy with the initial decision not to prosecute the farmer. He said the NPA ordered an internal inquiry into the withdrawal of the matter with a view to institute disciplinary procedures if necessary.