7 December 2017

South Africa: Coffin Case 'Has Been Affecting Me Emotionally' - Victor Mlotshwa

Coffin assault victim Victor Mlotshwa says returning to court and seeing his attackers fighting for freedom has been an emotionally taxing ordeal.

"I was shocked yesterday (Wednesday) when I heard that they are appearing in court today. Coming to court for the case has been affecting me emotionally," said Mlotshwa outside the Middelburg Magistrate's Court on Thursday.

Mlotshwa said he was still pursuing a civil case against the men.

On Thursday, Judge Segopotje Mphahlele refused to grant Theo Jackson and Willem Oosthuizen bail.

Jackson and Oosthuizen, who were convicted of assault, attempted murder, kidnapping and intimidation, brought the application for bail pending the outcome of the application for leave to appeal.

Mphahlele said she did not believe there was any prospect of success at the Supreme Court of Appeal for the duo and that another court would not come to a different conclusion.

The pair argued that they had petitioned the Supreme Court of Appeal for leave to appeal against both the conviction and the sentences.

The men were sentenced to 11 years and 14 years respectively behind bars for forcing Mlotshwa into a coffin and threatening to pour petrol on him.

After their sentencing in October, they applied for leave to appeal, but their application was dismissed by Mphahlele.

The courtroom on Thursday was almost packed to capacity with Mlotshwa and his mother seated in the front row of the public court gallery.

In a joint affidavit, read by their lawyers in court, the pair said in the event that their application for bail pending appeal was dismissed and their appeal was successful, they would have been "deprived" of their freedom.

They also said should the appeal be unsuccessful, there would be "no harm or prejudice" that would be suffered by the State or anyone. They said they would go back to prison and serve their terms.

They believed that another court would come to a different conclusion.

But prosecutor Robert Molokoane said the bail application was premature.

He argued that there were hundreds of applications from individuals petitioning for leave to appeal their sentences and convictions. He said should the pair be granted bail, then the other applicants should be heard as well.

Following the judgment, one of the coffin assault duo's wives wept while being comforted by the other wife.

In October when Mphahlele handed down the sentences, she said the conduct of the two men was "humiliating and disgusting".

The incident was filmed and when the video went viral on social media, it sparked an outcry and demands for justice.

Mphahlele said their conduct went against the spirit of the Constitution.

The pair's initial bail was revoked shortly after sentencing.

Source: News24

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