THE four people accused in a kidnapping and assault case being heard in the Swakopmund Regional Court have been relieved of a charge of racial discrimination, while an attempted murder charge has also been reduced to a count of assault with intent to do grievous bodily harm.
The charges were reduced after defence lawyer Boris Isaacks last month succeeded with an application to have the four accused found not guilty on the racial discrimination charge they were facing.
Swakopmund Regional Court magistrate Gaynor Poulton ruled that the state failed to prove that charge and that on the attempted murder charge there was only enough evidence to consider the alternative charge, which is a count of assault with intent to do grievous bodily harm.
Logan Pretorius, his fiancée, Sandra Riobo, and their friends Curven Vries and Ashley Januarie are now charged with kidnapping and assault with intent to do grievous bodily harm in connection with an incident that took place at Walvis Bay on 28 August 2014.
The state is alleging that the four accused detained three teenage boys, aged 14 and 15 at that time, in the Meersig residential area at the harbour town and physically and verbally abused the boys using a panga, a spanner, a hammer and dogs.
They also allegedly forced the teenagers to drink salty water and rubbed chilli sauce under their eyes and around their lips. When they vomited, Pretorius and his co-accused allegedly forced the teenagers to lick up the vomit.
The alleged kidnapping and assault on the boys are claimed to have taken place after a pedigreed dog of Pretorius had been killed, and an attempt had been made - allegedly by the three youngsters - to steal another of his dogs.
The four accused denied the allegations that they physically abused the three boys when they testified in their defence this week. The only assault that was admitted was that Pretorius slapped one of the boys once against the head. The reason for that slap was that Pretorius was "broken" because his dog, which he considered to be a "baby son" of his, was killed - allegedly by the boys, according to him.
When the boys were caught by the four accused after they had allegedly tried to steal another dog of Pretorius, the accused allegedly gave them the option to have their parents called or to be handed over to the police. One of the boys suggested that the accused should rather slap and release them.
Instead of a torturous six hours being held against their will, the boys were counselled by the accused to stop stealing or face becoming criminals who will end up in jail, the accused testified.
The four also denied the correctness of photographs showing how the face of one of the boys was swollen, bruised and scratched, and another boy's leg allegedly bore the scar of a dog bite.
The boy's face looked like that, according to the defence, because of a fight that ensued between the boys while being interrogated by the accused, when they tried to keep each other quiet on their alleged intention to steal the dogs.
State prosecutor Faith Chipepera-Nyaungwa zoomed in on the kidnapping charge, trying to prove the boys were detained against their will and without their parents' consent by four adults, while also arguing that the physical evidence proved the children were in fact assaulted with the intent to do grievous bodily harm to them.
The trial is scheduled to continue on 23 May.