Bloemfontein – Wilmien, the 2-year-old daughter of Free State farmer Attie Potgieter, had a cut to her head caused by a sharp instrument and then she was shot dead.
This was the evidence the Free State High Court heard on Wednesday when six men accused of killing the Potgieter family on their farm near Lindley in December 2010 appeared in court.
The men, aged between 18 and 33, pleaded not guilty to three counts of murder one of robbery with aggravating circumstances and other charges relating to the illegal possession of firearms and ammunition.
The six are Stemmer Mofokeng, 23, Tapa Mofokeng, 34, Paulus “Vusi” Khumalo, 23, Tshokolo Lelala, 19, Telleko Seekoei, 20, and Diphapang Motaung, 18, all from Lindley.
Giving testimony, pathologist Dr Robert G Book said that Potgieter, 40, had 151 stab and laceration wounds when he examined the body.
Potgieter’s wife, Wilna, 36, had several deep lacerations to the head and a gunshot wound to the neck.
Indications were that the woman and child were shot at close range, he said.
When asked by State prosecutor Jannie Botha on his first impressions of Potgieter’s body, Book said: “The deceased “had been tortured to death.”
Testifying on the autopsy done on Potgieter, Book said the injuries could have been caused by tools such as a garden fork, panga, spade or sharp knife, while other injuries could have been caused by a brick or stone.
The State alleges the six attacked Potgieter outside his house with knives, a garden fork and a panga, killing him.
They then attacked the woman and child inside the house and shot them, the State alleges.
On Wednesday Motaung, who was a minor at the time of the murders, entered a plea explanation. In it he indicated that he had been on the farm on the day the Potgieters were killed, but claims he had no knowledge of what was planned or going to happen.
In his plea, which was read into the record by his lawyer Leona Smit, Motaung said after a sleepover at Khumalo’s house on the farm the night before, he was called to the farm house the next morning.
He was forced, and threatened with a firearm, to help move a man covered in blood, while a woman and child were present.
He ran away after the woman and child were taken away and heard two shots, which he thought were fired at him for fleeing.
He was later given R500 to keep quiet and was again threatened to be killed if he identified those involved, he claims.
The State called policemen to testify about what they found at the scene and how some of the arrests were made.
State prosecutor Jannie Botha was expected to call forensic experts to testify on Thursday.