It wouldn't hurt to give us bail‚ say coffin assault convicts
Two men who were found guilty of attempted murder on Thursday said it would not hurt anyone if they were granted bail pending a decision by the Supreme Court of Appeal.
Farm workers Theo Jackson and Willem Oosthuizen‚ who were found guilty of a string of charges after they filmed themselves forcing a young man into a coffin‚ have since petitioned the SCA.
In papers presented before the High Court sitting in Middelburg‚ the pair said: "In the event that [our] application for bail pending appeal is dismissed‚ and [our] appeal is ultimately granted‚ [we] as citizens of this country will have been deprived of ... freedom unjustifiably. It should be avoided at all costs.
"If unsuccessful it is submitted that no harm or prejudiced will be suffered by the state since [we] would then be incarcerated for the full period as imposed by this court or even an extended period."
Wayne Gibbs for Willem Oosthuizen stressed that the court had relied too heavily on the videos of the assault and failed to acknowledge that Oosthuizen and Jackson were simply in character as they tried to scare their victim‚ Victor Mlotshwa.
They had accused him of stealing copper cables. They said Mlotshwa had threatened to burn their crops and harm their families should he be taken to jail.
Judge Segopotje Mphahlele asked: "Are you saying that we are making a big deal about what we saw on the video?"
"Yes. That is what I am saying‚" Gibbs said‚ nodding.
Prosecutor Robert Molokoane‚ however‚ said the application was premature.
He said there were hundreds of petitions for leave to appeal that were yet to be heard by the courts and granting Jackson and Oosthuizen bail would set a bad precedent.
Org Basson‚ for Theo Jackson‚ however‚ seemed to be under the impression that another court may find that the 11 and 14-year sentences given to his clients were too harsh.
"Do you think they can get a non-custodial sentence?" asked Mphahlele.
"Yes‚" Gibbs replied.
Mphahlele is expected to deliver her ruling shortly.