Coffin assault duo in prison's sick bay

07 November 2017 - 14:30 By Naledi Shange
Theo Jackson and Willem Oosthuizen at the High Court sitting at the Middleburg Magistrates court in Mpumalanga. FILE PHOTO.
Theo Jackson and Willem Oosthuizen at the High Court sitting at the Middleburg Magistrates court in Mpumalanga. FILE PHOTO.
Image: Alaister Russell/The Times

Farm employees Theo Jackson and Willem Oosthuizen‚ who were found guilty of assaulting Victor Mlotshwa and forcing him into a coffin‚ are yet to set foot in a prison cell.

The pair have been kept in the sick bay of the Witbank Correctional Services facility since their sentencing two weeks ago‚ Oosthuizen's attorney‚ Marius Coertze‚ confirmed on Tuesday.

He said this was because of errors in court papers signed off by Judge Segopotje Mphahlele.

"A strange thing happened. When the warrants were signed by the judge‚ they indicated that the two were to serve a time period of 29 years and 23 years‚" said Coertze.

The pair however‚ were sentenced to 11 and 14 years.

Mphahlele's error would have resulted in them being placed in a maximum facility at the Witbank Correctional Services‚ where criminals serving life sentences are kept.

"They would have been in there with the wrong crowd‚" Coertze said.

"But prison authorities noticed the (error) and they decided to keep them in the sick bay instead‚" he added.

The two cannot be placed in the correct section of the prison facility until Mphahlele acts.

"The warrant must go back (to the judge) to be rectified and then be sent back to the prison authorities‚" said Coertze.

He was unsure why it had taken so long.

Coertze said the defence is planning to file a petition for leave to appeal against the men's conviction on a string of charges‚ including attempted murder‚ kidnapping and intimidation.

"Our opinion is that another reasonable court will come to another reasonable decision. We were quite disappointed and shocked when she refused the leave to appeal‚" he added.

The two men were arrested last year after a video they took of themselves forcing Mlotshwa into a coffin went viral. In it‚ Mlotshwa was heard begging for his life as they forced the coffin closed‚ threatening to burn him alive.

During the trial‚ Oosthuizen and Jackson maintained they had done nothing wrong. They defended the assault by accusing Mlotshwa of stealing copper cables and of threatening their families should they take him to the police.

Mlotshwa however‚ refuted these claims. He said the pair had suddenly attacked him without any provocation as he waited to hitchhike to town.