South African Jacques Freitag, who was facing assault charges relating to an alleged road rage incident last January, settled his case with the alleged victim Raymond Williams during a closed door meeting with Williams while waiting for the case to be called on Thursday.
The case follows an alleged incident in January 2006 when Freitag, 23, and training partner Ziegfriedt Veenemans, 22, apparently drove very close to a car Williams, 17, was in, leading to a road rage incident where the two high jumpers allegedly assaulted Williams and broke his nose.
Both men where arrested on 27-January-2006, then released on warning following that incident. Freitag and his legal representatives reported at the Brooklyn police station, where Freitag made a statement. He then appeared in court and the case was postponed until 15-February.
Their first trial date was set to begin in May, but was postponed on 4-May to a date in October due to their involvement with the European circuit.
Attorney du Plessis told the court it was such a lengthy postponement as the two would be in Europe until early October.
Following the initial postponement, du Plessis and the prosecutors reached an agreement that du Plessis' team needed more time to prepare for the case, and had permission granted from Magistrate Dreyer van der Merwe of the Hatfield Community Court in Pretoria to have the postponement moved to 11-January.
The settlement agreement caused the case to take on a new element.
"The case has been resolved between the parties. There was no money involved," du Plessis is quoted as stating by IOL (source).
Freitag and Veenemans have had their case before the Hatfield community court, where their hearing has now been postponed to 6-March, when they will likely have been sent to a diversion programme.
Freitag and Veenemans will both be assessed by a probation officer to ensure that they qualify for the programme, and, if they successfully complete it, the court will then withdraw the charges against both men.
If they complete the diversion programme, which is stated to possibly include counselling or anger management classes, the charge against both defendants is likely to be withdrawn from prosecutors.
Police said Williams had reported that Freitag kicked and beat him outside a restaurant where Williams worked in Hazelwood, Brooklyn - east of the city of Pretoria. The incident, witnessed by patrons, was one which Williams reported to authorities that both defendants in the case had attempted to "assault with intent to do grievous bodily harm" (story).
Freitag set his current national record of 2.38m at the fourth ASA Champions meeting in 2004. He had hoped to be selected for his first-ever Commonwealth Games last season, but was overlooked by the national selectors.
He struggled with injury suffered from a vehicular accident on 29-January 2006. An MRI scan revealed he suffered bruising, had a lot of fluid in the area, and had tearing of the soft tissue on the hip which he injured in the accident.
Freitag - the 2003 IAAF World high jump champion (2.35m), 2000 IAAF World Junior Champion (2.24m) and 1999 IAAF World Youth Champion (2.16m) - missed out on the South African Championships in Port Elizabeth, which acted as the Commonwealth Games team trials.
Freitag had an opportunity to be selected if he could land back on his feet and demonstrate that he was fit enough to compete in the Games, a move which could have enabled selectors to make a recommendation to the board to include him as an exceptional case, but was not able to successfully manage the injury.
Freitag had been snubbed by the selectors on another occasion, back in 2000, when he jumped 2.30m shortly before Sydney Olympics, but not named to SA team. His was the =22 mark on the IAAF performance list that season.
Vyacheslav Voronin led the yearly list with his life-time best mark of 2.40m - the last man over the past six seasons to successfully manage that height outdoors. Russian Sergey Klyugin won the gold in Sydney with a mark of 2.35m.
Freitag, the first athlete to win gold medals at the IAAF senior world title (2003), Junior world title (2000), and IAAF Youth Championships (1999), has not been able to avoid injury along his young career.
After jumping an incredible seven-consecutive meets at 2.30m or better in 2002 - including three new South Africa records, Freitag suffered a serious ankle injury a few months later and underwent surgery in Finland.
Freitag's injury forced him to miss the 2002 Commonwealth Games in Manchester and the prestigious World Cup held in Madrid, which Africa went on to win for the fourth-straight season. Canadian Mark Boswell won the first of his two Commonweath titles in 2002, clearing 2.28m. Yaroslav Rybakov won the European Cup title with a jump of 2.31m.
Freitag has jumped 23 times against our national high jump sensation, 2004 Olympic gold medalist and 2005 European Indoor Champion Stefan Holm, with Holm finishing ahead of Freitag on 19 of those occasions (source).
Freitag's career progression (courtesy IAAF):
- 1998 - 2.08m
- 1999 - 2.25m
- 2000 - 2.30m
- 2001 - 2.31m (African Junior Record)
- 2002 - 2.37m (African Record)
- 2003 - 2.35m
- 2004 - 2.34m
- 2005 - 2.38m (World leader)
- 2006 - 2.24m