Coffin accused told to keep same casket for himself
Mbombela - Theo Martins Jackson, one of the two men accused of assaulting and shoving farmworker Victor Mlotshwa into a coffin, was told by his former employer, Johannes de Beer, to keep the same coffin as his own after the incident, the Delmas High Court in Mpumalanga heard on Monday.
De Beer told the court while testifying as a State witness on the first day of the trial that he confronted Jackson about the incident after he learnt about it in the media. He said the coffin used by Jackson and his co-accused, Willem Oosthuizen, in the incident was bought by his [De Beer's] father some time ago and kept in the store room on the farm.
"I confronted Jackson about the incident and told him to take that coffin because it was now his own," said De Beer.
"I also told him to go and hand himself over, but did not say where. He left the job after that but I don’t know whether he went to the police," De Beer testified. "My father bought two coffins and a man who worked on the farm used another one to bury his family member. The other one was kept in the store room."
Oosthuizen and Jackson were arrested late last year for allegedly assaulting Mlotshwa and shoving him into a coffin on a farm near Middelburg. They were granted bail of R1,000 each by the Middelburg Magistrate's Court on July 14 after their previous bail application was denied by the same court in December last year. The incident was captured on a video which went viral on social media. The two men face charges including attempted murder, assault with intent to do grievous bodily harm, kidnapping and intimidation.
State prosecutor Robert Molokoane asked De Beer whether people in general were allowed to walk on the foot path on which Mlotshwa was stopped and apprehended by Oosthuizen and Jackson for alleged trespassing. He said the path was not normally used, but pointed out that some people walked on it without permission.
"We have a problem with that [walking on that path] because of theft. But we don't confront people for using it because that [using it] happens all the time," said De Beer.
Oosthuizen was represented by advocate Wayne Gibbs, while Jackson was represented by advocate Org Basson. The two lawyers separately read out affidavits in which their clients reiterated their previous arguments that they shoved Mlotshwa into a coffin in order to scare him off because he allegedly threatened to kill their wives and children after they wanted to take him to the police for alleged trespassing and for possession of suspected stolen copper cables.
The court was packed to capacity and a large number of people were denied access to the courtroom. Mlotshwa was also present but refused to speak to the media about the trial.
A group of African National Congress Youth League and the South African Communist Party members sang and danced outside the court, waving placards and shouting and calling for life sentences for the accused. A group of Democratic Alliance members also chanted anti-racism songs and danced outside the court.
A small crowd of about 10 people followed and hurled verbal abuse at Oosthuizen and Jackson when they stepped out of the court building and walked to their cars with their legal teams later in the day, but police officers intervened.
The trial is expected to be concluded on August 10.African News Agency