Confusing apology‚ 'expressions of remorse' from coffin-assault culprits

23 October 2017 - 16:55 By Naledi Shange
From left: Willem Oosthuizen and Theo Jackson appear at the High Court sitting at the Middleburg Magistrates court in Mpumalanga ahead of sentencing proceedings. The pair have been convicted of assault after forcing Victor Mlotshwa into a coffin and threatening to set him alight.
From left: Willem Oosthuizen and Theo Jackson appear at the High Court sitting at the Middleburg Magistrates court in Mpumalanga ahead of sentencing proceedings. The pair have been convicted of assault after forcing Victor Mlotshwa into a coffin and threatening to set him alight.
Image: Alaister Russell/The Times

"I regret putting him in the coffin and not taking him to the police station‚" Theo Jackson said‚ after taking the stand in the High Court sitting in Middelburg.

He was testifying in his sentencing proceedings . "Remember‚ you gave a version to the court about why you did not take him to the police station? You wanted to teach him a lesson. Now what informs you to change that version?" prosecutor Robert Molokoane asked Jackson.

"I did make mention that this is because of the impact it has had on my family‚" he replied. "And you just feel that way now because you are facing imprisonment?" Molokoane asked.

"That is correct‚" he replied.

Following the somewhat confusing matter of whether or not the pair were remorseful‚ Mlotshwa told the court that he had not yet received an apology from them.

He said he continued to suffer from nightmares and had a fear of people he was unfamiliar with. He had since even moved from the area where the incident happened.

As he gave evidence‚ his mother broke out in a piercing cry. It was the second time that the proceedings had had to be adjourned because of her outbursts.

One of those on the legal team sighed and jokingly asked whether "an Oscar would be handed out for the best performance." Meanwhile‚ the attorneys for both accused on Monday urged the court to keep their clients out of prison.

Wayne Gibbs and Org Basson submitted that they did not believe their clients could afford a fine. One was now surviving on selling fruit and vegetables‚ while the other was employed but in debt.

They pleaded with the court to not give direct imprisonment to the pair‚ urging that their sentences be wholly suspended‚ or that they be imposed with correctional supervision. Gibbs explained why their clients' plea for remorse may appear ambiguous.

"They cannot say that they are sorry that they wanted to murder someone‚ because they say they did not try to kill him‚" he explained.

"We all do things which in hindsight may not be a right decision‚" Basson added.

The court will deliver its verdict on Friday.

 

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