Cape Town – Residents of the small Karoo town of Murraysburg have demanded justice for job seeker Anthony Koopman, who sustained severe injuries, including a cracked skull, after allegedly being attacked by farmers who accused him of livestock theft.
Karel van Heerden and his son Ludwig made their first appearance in the Murraysburg Magistrate’s Court last Monday on charges of assault with intent to do grievous bodily harm. It is understood the matter was postponed to October 20.
A group of residents, including members of the Support Centre for Land Change (SCLC), an NGO operating in the Western and Eastern Cape, last week organised a peaceful demonstration at the court in support of Koopman.
Protesters held placards reading “Justice for Anthony”.
Koopman was apparently riding his bicycle to a nearby farm to look for a possible job opportunity when the two farmers approached him and accused him of stealing livestock.
The farmers then allegedly attacked him, hitting him in the face and head with a pistol, cracking his skull.
The farmers also allegedly pointed an empty firearm at Koopman’s neck several times. They also allegedly threatened to run him over with their car, said the SCLC.
An unconscious Koopman was admitted to hospital in George.
Following this incident, Koopman began to suffer from epileptic seizures, the SCLC said.
He will have to take medication for the rest of his life.
“As a result of his medical condition following the attack, the prospects of him finding employment have been narrowed down to such an extent that he now has to look for food at the dump site,” the Centre said.
It also noted that initially a case of assault with intent to do grievous bodily harm was opened. However, when Koopman eventually woke up and was able to make a statement, the docket was amended and the farmers were charged with attempted murder.
The charges were later changed back to assault.
“This case raises several concerns relating to procedures that need to be properly investigated. For some reason unknown to the victim, the charges have again been amended and changed back to assault. Anthony Koopman indicated to the investigating officer that he was not in agreement with this and the matter was then referred to the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) for review. They also said Koopman was only informed of the case coming before court on Friday, leaving him with inadequate time to properly prepare.
“When before court, Koopman was subjected to what he referred to as “cross examination” that left him feeling extremely anxious.
“After the ‘cross examination’ he was dismissed from court without any proper explanation of the way forward. At this stage, no legal representation was made available to him by the state. The only assistance that he received to date was paralegal support provided by the SCLC,” the centre said.
Koopman said yesterday that he felt his human dignity had been violated and the justice system had made him