The accused in the Lutzville murder case was denied bail on 1 December 2016 in the Vredendal Magistrate Court.
Martin Visser, a 43-year old farmer appeared in the Vredendal Magistrate court for the murder of Adam Pieterse, a seasonal farm-worker from Prieska. Pieterse went missing in February 2015 and his body was discovered in a shallow grave on a farm belonging to Visser’s father a month after.
Visser was arrested 18 months later thanks to a campaign by a group of farm workers’ rights activists that put pressure on the prosecution after it emerged that the deceased had once laid assault charges against Visser for allegedly beating him up for trespassing on his farm.
In his bail ruling, magistrate Cyril Kroutz told the defense that the farmer’s circumstances cannot weigh heavier than those of the victim and his family, as the victim was the sole bread winner. He also said he is convinced that the state has a strong case against the accused. Furthermore, he said he is of the opinion that the accused will definitely intimidate witnesses in the case.
The chairperson of the Rural and Farmworkers Development Organisation, Billy Claasen, says they welcome the denial of bail. “This is a victory for farm workers’ rights as for a long time cases where farm workers are victims just disappeared.” Claasen says they have asked the police to start investigating all cases that were laid by farm workers from 2010. He says the incident was “unnecessary and barbaric”. He concludes by saying “we still need to work towards bettering the living conditions of farm workers and the farming community in general.”
Visser’s case was postponed to 16 January 2016 for a high court date.