It could have been me‚ says witness in coffin assault case

02 August 2017 - 13:16 By Naledi Shange
POINTS OF EVIDENCE Willem Oosthuizen and Theo Jackson talk to their lawyer in the Middelburg Magistrate's Court, where they are being tried for assault and forcing Victor Mlotshwa into a coffin.
POINTS OF EVIDENCE Willem Oosthuizen and Theo Jackson talk to their lawyer in the Middelburg Magistrate's Court, where they are being tried for assault and forcing Victor Mlotshwa into a coffin.
Image: Masi Losi

A man who claimed to have been assaulted by the same farm workers accused of assaulting Victor Mlotshwa and putting him in a coffin said he feared the same could have happened to him.

Testifying in the High Court sitting in the Middelburg Magistrate’s Court on Wednesday‚ Delton Sithole claimed that on August 17 2016‚ Theo Jackson and Willem Oosthuizen assaulted him after they found him walking on a footpath on the JM DE Boerdery farm near the Komati Power Station.

“Can you think of any reason why accused one and two would have not put you in the coffin?” Org Basson for Theo Jackson asked Sithole.

“I don’t know why they didn’t put me in there but I think about what was the reason. Had Mlotshwa not appeared‚ I believe that they could have placed me in the coffin‚” Sithole added.

His version was that as he walked along the footpath towards the Big House informal settlement‚ he came across Oosthuizen‚ who was driving in his bakkie.

Oosthuizien stopped him and asked what he was doing there. He explained he was simply walking through.

Sithole claimed Oosthuizien grabbed him by the wrist and as he turned to reach for a firearm in the car‚ he made a run for it. As he fled‚ he came across Jackson‚ who was also in a bakkie.

Sithole said Jackson and Oosthuizen threw him in the back of the bakkie‚ where they assaulted and kicked him.

They only released him after they saw Mlotshwa also on the footpath‚ saying “here is another k*ff*r”‚ he said.

The two men are then alleged to have gone for Mlotshwa‚ assaulting him and forcing him in into a coffin‚ while recording the incident.

The video went viral‚ causing widespread outrage. The footage was admitted as evidence by the court during the bail application of the two.

Sithole’s testimony was put under scrutiny‚ with Basson saying he found it hard to accept his version of events. The version of the two accused is that they have never seen Sithole.

They claimed the incident with Mlotshwa took place on September 7 and not on August 17‚ as said by Sithole.

Sithole had not immediately informed the police of the incident but waited two months to do so.

Explaining why he did not immediately head to the police station‚ he claimed to have been gripped by fear.

“I was scared that should they could come across me‚” he said.

“Did you not decide to take some of your friends from Big House [informal settlement] so as not to be scared?” Basson asked.

“I never thought about that‚” Sithole said.

“That is what makes your version for me strange. You felt degraded‚ that was your testimony yesterday ... Yet you did nothing?” Basson asked.

“It is true. I was scared.”

He claimed to have run home to the informal settlement after the assault and informed two men of what had happened.

They went back to the farm in search of Mlotshwa.

Sithole said he did not tell the two men that one of his attackers had had a gun.

As he said this‚ Jackson smiled at his co-accused.

“Accused number 2 will testify that he does not know you at all. On August 17‚ he was nowhere near the incident where you say the alleged incident took place. Because Mlotshwa is your friend‚ you made this statement to support him‚” Basson said.

“Mlotshwa is not my friend. He is someone I know from the community‚” Sithole added.

Oosthuizen and Jackson face charges of attempted murder‚ two counts of assault with intent to cause grievous bodily harm‚ kidnapping‚ intimidation‚ unlawful possession of a firearm and defeating the ends of justice.

The duo is also accused of concealing evidence by allegedly burning the coffin in October.

They have pleaded not guilty on all charges.