Thembisile Hani Local Municipality mayor, Nomsa Mtsweni (first from right), coffin assault victim Victor Mlotshwa, his mother Lonia Mlotshwa, and Nkangala ANC regional spokesman Sello Matshoga (fourth from right) inside the packed High Court sitting in the Middelburg Magistrate’s Court in Mpumalanga on Monday. PHOTO: ANA

Middelburg - Judgment in the trial of two men accused of assaulting farmworker Victor Mlotshwa and shoving him into a coffin is expected on Friday, in the High Court sitting in the Middelburg Magistrate’s Court in Mpumalanga.

Mlotshwa, his mother Lonea Mlotshwa and many African National Congress (ANC) members on Monday, appeared to be upbeat about the upcoming judgment in the case.

Willem Oosthuizen and Theo Martins Jackson were arrested late last year, for allegedly assaulting Mlotshwa and shoving him into a coffin. A video of the incident went viral on social media and sparked outrage as well as making headlines internationally.
The two accused face charges including attempted murder, kidnapping, assault with intent to do grievous bodily harm and intimidation.

Presenting closing arguments on Monday, State prosecutor Robert Molokoane told the court that evidence led before the court previously had revealed that Oosthuizen and Jackson had attempted to kill Victor.

A group of ANC members sing and dance while holding two makeshift coffins showing pictures of Willem Oosthuizen and Theo Martins Jackson outside the Middelburg Magistrate’s Court in Mpumalanga on Monday. PHOTO: ANA

“The accused threatened and took Mlotshwa to the ditch, and that means they had already commenced the attempted murder,” said Molokoane.

“That incident was an attempted murder because Mlotshwa was also assaulted. If you wanted to scare him, why use a coffin? At the time, while Mlotshwa was inside the coffin, the court saw in a video how they tried to close the coffin. He would have suffocated and died if they closed the coffin."

Oosthuizen’s lawyer, Advocate Wayne Gibbs insisted that the accused did not commit attempted murder and that they had no intention to kill Mlotshwa. 

He said there was a discrepancy between Mlotshwa's testimony about the nature of the injuries he sustained in the alleged assault and the testimony of his mother, Lonea Mlotshwa.

"Mr Mlotshwa was invited to show the injuries to the court but he refused," said Gibbs.

"I've never heard of a case where people go and fetch a coffin before they murder someone. I submit that there is no evidence whatsoever which suggests that there was an intention to murder Mr Mlotshwa."

Mlotshwa and his mother could be seen seen interacting with ANC leaders inside the packed courtroom. A group of other ANC and ANC Youth League members sang and danced outside the court, carrying two makeshift coffins with pictures of Oosthuizen and Jackson attached to the top of the coffins.

ANC members carry makeshift coffins and dance outside the Middelburg Magistrate’s Court in Mpumalanga on Monday. VIDEO: ANA