After granting them bail, the two notorious coffin assault perpetrators – Willem Oosthuizen and Theo Martins Jackson, who beat up a black man, Victor Rethabile Mlotshwa, put him in a coffin and shared a video of the inhumane act on social media have been found guilty of the crime committed in 2016.
The duo received the judgment passed by Judge Sheila Mphahlele in the high court in Middelburg on Friday.
They were charged with kidnapping, two counts of assault with intent to cause grievous bodily harm, intimidation‚ unlawful possession of a firearm, attempted murder and defeating the ends of justice.
Notwithstanding the initial charges, Theo and Willem were found not guilty of unlawful possession of a firearm. This follows insufficient evidence that the two had a gun in their possession at the time Mlotshwa was abducted.
On the day of the incident, the pair took a video of Mlotshwa being forced into a coffin and put it up on social media. This sparked national outrage and the video was admitted as evidence by the court during the bail application of the two.
In their plea explanations read out to a packed court last month‚ the men claimed they had caught Victor Mlotshwa trespassing on a mealie farm belonging to their employers. They also claimed that the victim was in possession of suspected property‚ (copper cables) and had threatened to kill them and their families.
“He told us he would burn the mealie crops and kill us and our wives and children,” the men said.
Subsequently, the men both pleaded not guilty to all charges.
Magistrate Jongilizwe Dumehleli‚ during the bail proceedings‚ said that the attack was clearly motivated by racism, dismissing all explanations given by the two coffin assault perpetrators.
“None of the applicants explained what happened to the copper cables. They also knew where the police station is. They never brought the copper cables to the police station for safe custody‚” Dumehleli said.
The men said the incident took place on September 7 last year and not on August 17‚ as the state had indicated to the court.
Mlotshwa told the court that he’s not guilty of stealing anything and never did anything that would have caused the two men to attack him. According to him, he was hitchhiking to Middelburg when he was attacked and accused of stealing. The men had told him they would shoot him if he tried to run.