Charges Against Coffin Assault Suspects Upgraded: The case against two men – Theo Jackson and Willem Oosthuizen – who allegedly forced Victor Mlotshwa into a coffin and threatened to pour petrol over him was postponed in the Middelburg Regional Court on Thursday morning.
Multiple reports have it that the charges against the men were upgraded to attempted murder by the state. The pair had been slapped with charges of kidnapping and assault, with intent to do grievous bodily harm.
State prosecutor San Bhartu said that the charges were upgraded due to the emergence of new evidence.
She said: “In terms of the nature of the evidence‚ we have decided that this scenario fits in under attempted murder because we can prove evidence of attempted murder. Therefore we have added that as a charge.”
The court announced that the men will now stand trial for attempted murder between June 26 – 29.
Magistrate Lindiwe Vukeya also told the suspects that they would remain in custody until their next court appearance.
Jackson’s representative on learning about the additional charge said: “We have been informed that the state has added an attempted murder but we will plead not guilty for both the accused.”
The pair were arrested in August 2016 after a video footage showed them shoving a black man Rethabile Mlotshwa into a coffin for allegedly trespassing on their farm. They also threatened to douse the coffin with petrol and set him alight.
The victim told reporters that he was walking to the town of Middelburg and decided to use a shortcut when the two men spotted him.
“They accused me of trespassing. Then they beat me up and I had to run away. They tied me with a cable tie and took me to the nearest farm. They beat me up and forced me into the coffin,” he said.
The incident took place at JM De Beer Boerdery next to Komati Power Station. The video footage, which went viral on the internet last month led to a public outcry and supports for the victim from most political parties, aggrieved individuals, including President Jacob Zuma.
During their last appearance‚ Jackson and Oosthuizen told the court they committed the act because they merely wanted to teach Mlotshwa a lesson.