Willem Oosthuizen and Theo Martins Jackson have been accused of shoving Victor Rethabile Mlotshwa man into a coffin while threatening to kill him. Picture: Itumeleng English

Middelburg – The safety of the two men, who were arrested for allegedly assaulting a black man and shoving him into a coffin, dominated proceedings during their bail hearing on Friday morning at the Middleburg Magistrate’s Court in Mpumalanga.

The court was expected to pronounce its decision later on Friday afternoon on the bail hearing of Theo Martins Jackson and Willem Oosthuizen.

They were charged with kidnapping and assault with intent to do grievous bodily harm in connection with an incident in which Victor Rethabile Mlotshwa was assaulted and shoved into a coffin.

The State insisted that the accused might be vulnerable to attack if released on bail. The State also reiterated its stance that the duo might interfere with and influence the outstanding police investigations into the matter.

Investigating officer Dimakatso Bahula, who was testifying as a witness for the State, told the court the accused were being transported by police in five vehicles when coming to court for the bail hearing to make sure they were safe.

She was responding to one of the questions posed to her by prosecutor advocate Robert Molokoane.

“The whole world was surprised by what they [the accused] did and we are trying to protect them,” said Bahula.

On Thursday, a group of African National Congress members publicly slapped two white dolls with their hands outside the court, which were tied onto a piece of a wood plank.

Some people in the crowd anonymously told the African News Agency (ANA) that the dolls were the replicas of the accused.

While posing further questions to Bahula on Friday morning, Molokoane also referred to the act of slapping the dolls as an indication that the accused would not be safe if released on bail.

“Beating the dolls was a threat,” she said.

“I also ask myself who were beating those dolls. I heard you [Bahula] yesterday saying there was also an outrage in the community. Can you allow them to be released amid such a threat?” Molokoane asked.

Bahula responded in the negative.

However, defence lawyer advocate John Welch pestered the State to provide reasons why his clients should not get bail. This was despite the fact that Bahula said the police still needed to obtain a warrant to search the place of the accused for illegal firearms.

Bahula said if the accused were released on bail, they might remove the firearms before the search was carried out.

A crowd of ANC members sang and danced outside the court during a tea break.

ANC member Melanie Marx was seen dancing to the struggle songs among the crowd with her three-year-old daughter, Kopano Mosia.

“I decided to bring so that she can see how I fight for my rights,” she said.

Marx and many other ruling party members interviewed declined to comment on whether they thought the accused should be granted bail.

Addressing the crowd, Nkangala district chairperson of the ANC Speedy Mashilo urged his party members to remain calm and patiently wait for the court decision.

The bail hearing continues.

African News Agency