#CoffinAssault duo to know their fate on Friday

2017-10-23 20:33
Victor Mlotshwa (R) is welcomed by supporters as he arrives at the Middleburg Court on in Middlebrug. (Wikus de Wet/AFP)

Victor Mlotshwa (R) is welcomed by supporters as he arrives at the Middleburg Court on in Middlebrug. (Wikus de Wet/AFP)

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Middelburg – The two men who forced Victor Mlotshwa into a coffin and threatened to pour petrol over him will have to wait until Friday for their sentences to be handed down.

Following a day of arguments in a packed High Court sitting in the Middelburg Magistrate's Court on Monday, Judge Segopotje Mphahlele will have to consider submissions made in court in the sentencing proceedings of Willem Oosthuizen and Theo Jackson.

AS IT HAPPENED #CoffinAssault: Victor Mlotshwa was painfully threatened, court hears as judgment is reserved

On August 25 the pair were found guilty of assault, attempted murder, kidnapping and intimidation.

Mlotshwa and his mother Lonia, who has often been seen weeping in court, sat in the front row.

During court proceedings, Mlotshwa told the court that he now feared being out in public and had taken a decision to stay indoors after having faced criticism from members of the public.

Mlotshwa also told the court that he had received counselling two months after the incident.

Accused 'remorseful'

Oosthuizen's lawyer, Wayne Gibbs, accused Mlotshwa of abusing the court and that he was not telling the truth about the injuries he allegedly sustained to his back during the attack. He said Mlotshwa didn't take the court into his confidence when he refused to take off his shirt to show the wounds to the court.

"That is not true," Mlotshwa said.

In an about-turn, Oosthuizen and Jackson said they were remorseful about their actions.

A social worker, who cannot be named as she fears intimidation, read out her reports during Monday's proceedings.

The social worker, who has 31 years' experience, said she interviewed the accused men on their personal circumstances.

The duo said they regretted forcing Mlotshwa into a coffin. They both said they should have taken Mlotshwa to the police station instead.

Plea for mercy

The men said they had done some introspection and realised that what they did was wrong.

Oosthuizen's wife said he was not the person he had been portrayed as in the media. She said the case had affected her badly and she was now taking antidepressants. She pleaded for the court's mercy.

Meanwhile, Jackson said he wished he could turn back time to avoid the impact the incident has had on Mlotshwa, the social worker told the court.

"You said you saw nothing wrong. You deleted the video [which went viral on social media] because your wife said you should delete it," said prosecutor Robert Molokoane to Jackson.

Molokoane said the men were not being truthful about regretting the incident.

He said during their two-week-long trial the duo told the court that they didn't see anything wrong with what they did.

The accused had previously argued that they had to act when Mlotshwa allegedly threatened to burn their crops and murder their wives and children.

Civil claim

Jackson told the court earlier in the case that he had been advised to "get rid" of the coffin because it was causing trouble. The coffin would have been used as crucial evidence in the case.

Mlotshwa had previously testified that Jackson hit him with a knobkerrie all over his body, but "mostly on the back".

He also said the duo had used cable ties to restrain him.

Following the guilty verdict in August, Mlotshwa said the ruling would be "a lesson to those who are engaging themselves in racism".

Read more: Coffin assault judgment will be lesson for racists - Mlotshwa

"I am feeling very good that they have been found guilty. I always said I wanted justice," he said at the time.

They were granted R1 000 bail in July after reapplying for bail.

Mlotshwa asked the court to give the two men 15 years in prison. He said he would also approach the civil court in order to claim R400 000 from the accused. 

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