Coffin assault duo granted bail

2017-07-14 17:31
Coffin assault accused Willem Oosthuizen and Theo Jackson. (Lerato Sejake, News24)

Coffin assault accused Willem Oosthuizen and Theo Jackson. (Lerato Sejake, News24)

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Middelburg – The Middelburg Magistrate's Court has granted bail to two men who allegedly forced Victor Mlotshwa into a coffin and threatened to pour petrol over him.

Magistrate Jongilizwe Dumehleli said the Director of Public Prosecution's delay in terms of the trial had infringed upon the rights of the accused.

Theo Jackson and Willem Oosthuizen were on Friday granted bail of R1 000 each after reapplying for bail. Earlier Advocate Johan van Wyk, for the accused, argued that the pair should be released on bail as they would not interfere with investigations "because they are finalised".

"At this stage, there is no indication of any likelihood that the accused won't stand trial," he said.

But prosecutor Robert Molokoane said there were no new facts supporting the new bail application, adding that the defence was reflecting on the same issues raised during the first application.

They previously abandoned their bail bid, but then asked the court to grant them bail. Their bail application was denied at the time.

The court gallery was packed with members of the public and journalists. From the first day the matter was heard in court, political parties have staged protests outside the venue. However, the demonstrations have since come to a complete halt.

Death threats 

The pair face charges of kidnapping, assault with intent to do grievous bodily harm, attempted murder and possession of an illegal firearm. In their affidavits, read out in court by Van Wyk, the men said they had received death threats since they were arrested.

They also said they had witnessed several attacks by "hardened criminals" on other inmates.

"We have received death threats while incarcerated in prison, and the prison authorities had to move some prisoners to other sections in order to keep us safe."

They also said since the State's investigations were finalised they would not interfere with witnesses. In his affidavit, Oosthuizen told the court that his wife and two minor children depended on handouts to support themselves.

He said he had arranged to move from Middelburg to Potchefstroom where he believed he would be safe. Meanwhile, Jackson said his wife had sold their livestock as well as "my expensive specially-bred bloodhounds, partly because she did not earn enough to feed them and partly to earn extra money to support our three kids".

During their appearance in 2016, the pair told the court they had merely wanted to teach Mlotshwa a lesson. They claimed their actions were "negligible" and that they did not mean any harm.

The assault took place at the JM de Beer Boerdery, near the Komati power station in Mpumalanga. On August 17, 2016, Mlotshwa noticed two Land Cruisers following him, investigating officer Constable Dimakatso Bahula previously told the court. Bahula said the vehicles stopped and two men assaulted Mlotshwa and kicked him, without any explanation.

In a 20-second video of the incident, which was posted on YouTube, one man, speaking in Afrikaans, forces Mlotshwa into a coffin and threatens to pour petrol on him, while Mlotshwa pleaded with them to stop.

Read more on:    victor mlotshwa  |  middelburg  |  courts

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