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S.Africans Charged in Paint Assault

July 14, 1999

BALFOUR, South Africa (AP) _ A white cattle trader and a black farm worker were charged with assault Wednesday for covering the entire skin of a black man, including his genitals, with silver metallic paint.

The assault took place last week when the farmer, Eric de Beer stopped the victim, Moses Nkosi, on his property, police Capt. Gerhard Diedericks said.

De Beer, 42, and a farm worker, Andries Majola, 57, took Nkosi to a room and forced him to undress, police said. The farm worker then used a brush to paint Nkosi’s entire body, the South African Press Association reported.

Nkosi fled naked to his brother’s house, and then went to the police station. He was hospitalized for two days. Some paint contains toxins that can interfere with breathing and can be potentially fatal.

De Beer and Majola were charged with assault with intent to do grievous bodily harm, and were released on $50 bail each.

The case prompted comparisons to the apartheid era, when whites commonly beat up non-whites with no legal repercussions.

The Minister of Justice, Penuel Maduna, called the assault ``barbaric″ and said it was motivated by racism. ``It is a pity that this kind of conduct is still taking place in our society,″ he said.

The Star newspaper of Johannesburg carried a front page picture of Nkosi, whose hair, arms, legs, body and genitals were covered with silver metallic paint.

Police said rural whites are on edge because of attacks on their homes and families, carried out mostly by blacks. In 1998, there were 146 deaths in such attacks, the South African Agricultural Union has said.

Diedericks, commissioner of the Balfour police station 60 miles southeast of Johannesburg, said the De Beer operations were hit by cattle theft six times in June.