Judge accuses coffin assault pair of ‘disgusting‚ appalling and dehumanising’ crimes

From left: Willem Oosthuizen and Theo Jacobs 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. Picture: Alaister Russell/The Times
From left: Willem Oosthuizen and Theo Jacobs 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. Picture: Alaister Russell/The Times

The two farm workers who filmed themselves forcing Victor Mlotshwa into a coffin will each spend more than a decade behind bars.

Twenty-nine-year-old Willem Oosthuizen was sentenced to a total of 16 years behind bars‚ five of which were suspended. This will result in him spending 11 years behind bars.

Thirty-year-old Theo Jackson was sentenced to 19 years‚ five of which have been suspended. This would result in him spending 14 years behind bars.

The two may be eligible for parole after they have served a third for their sentence. However‚ the state applied for the court to issue a non-parole order.

Prosecutor Robert Molokoane said Oosthuizen and Jackson should serve at least two thirds of their sentence.

Molokoane asked the court to take into consideration that the pair had lied to the probation officer who interviewed them.

“They have maintained their innocence. What we hear from them is that they are guilty of putting him in a coffin and not guilty of attempted murder or simple kidnapping‚” Molokoane said.

He said the pair were “reluctant and stubborn and unwilling to accept accountability.”

The defence counsels accused the state of being opportunistic and pleaded with the court to deny his request.

Making her ruling‚ Judge Segopotje Mphahlele said it would not be prudent to grant the application by the state.

In August the pair were found guilty of assault with intent to cause grievous bodily harm‚ attempted murder‚ intimidation and kidnapping.

Jackson faced another charge of defeating the ends of justice after he burnt the coffin‚ which would have been used as evidence.

Delivering her sentencing in the High Court sitting in Middelburg‚ Judge Mphahlele described the crimes as appalling‚ disgusting and dehumanising.

Oosthuizen and Jackson had maintained they had done nothing wrong and defended the assault by accusing Mlotshwa of stealing copper cables. However‚ Mlotshwa said they had suddenly attacked him as he waited to hitch hike to town.

He claimed to have beaten with a knobkerrie as his assailants threatened to burn him alive.

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