Cape Town - The Ahmed Kathrada Foundation has called on law enforcement agencies to impose the toughest possible sanctions against two men accused in the” coffin assault” case.
Willem Oosthuizen and Theo Martins Jackson, accused of shoving a black man into a coffin while threatening to kill him, abandoned their bail application in the Middleburg Magistrate’s Court in Mpumalanga on Wednesday.
The two stated they feared for their lives and therefore would not continue with a scheduled bail application. The State had planned to oppose their bail application.
Neeshan Balton, the foundation’s director, on Thursday morning noted that the racial dynamics of the situation were “highly disturbing”.
“Ours is a constitutional democracy, where the values of non-racialism and basic human rights and dignity are sacrosanct.
“We are glad that the case has gone to court. We hope that the judiciary will be guided by the recent Constitutional Court ruling on the Sars racial incident and hand down the most severe punishment possible for this crime,” said Balton
He added that the general public, as well as political parties and the media, needed to be commended for ensuring that the issue was highlighted and “not swept under the carpet”.
In a short video that has since gone viral on social media, the man, Victor Rethabile Mlotshwa, is seen pleading for his life after being placed inside the coffin while one of his tormentors tries to close the coffin.
One is heard saying “we need to pour petrol, now sit stil”.
Oosthuizen and Jackson allegedly beat up Mlotshwa for walking through a farm. They then took him to another location, put him in a coffin and threatened to kill him. The pair face charges of kidnapping and assault with intent to cause grievous bodily harm.
After the court proceedings, the EFF and the ANC held separate rallies outside the court to support Mlotshwa, who, clad in an ANC T-shirt, was announced as a member of the ANC by ANC Youth League deputy president Desmond Moela.
The DA also condemned the men’s actions.
Magistrate Jongilizwe Dumehleli postponed the case to January 25 next year.
Cape Argus and ANA