The two men who abducted Victor Mlotshwa and forced him into a coffin have been found guilty of attempted murder‚ assault with intent to do grievous bodily harm and kidnapping.
Judge Sheila Mphahlele gave her judgment in the high court in Middelburg on Frdiay.
Theo Martins Jackson and Willem Oosthuizen faced charges of attempted murder‚ two counts of assault with intent to cause grievous bodily harm relating to separate incidents‚ kidnapping‚ intimidation‚ unlawful possession of a firearm and defeating the ends of justice.
The two were found not guilty of unlawful possession of a firearm‚ because there was not sufficient evidence that they had a gun in their possession at the time Mlotshwa was kidnapped.
The pair took a video of Mlotshwa being forced into a coffin‚ which sparked national outrage when it hit social media. The video was admitted as evidence by the court during the bail application of the two.
Magistrate Jongilizwe Dumehleli‚ during the bail proceedings‚ said that the attack was clearly motivated by racism.
The pair said in court affidavits that Mlotshwa was stealing copper cables‚ a claim the magistrate said was less than convincing.
“None of the applicants explained what happened to the copper cables. They also knew where the police station is. They never brought the copper cables to the police station for safe custody‚” Dumehleli said.
The men both pleaded not guilty on all charges.
In their plea explanations‚ read out to a packed court‚ the men claimed they had caught Mlotshwa trespassing on their employers farm.
“Mlotshwa was in possession of suspected property‚ ie copper cables‚” they said.
The men also claimed Mlotshwa had threatened to kill them and their families.
“He told us he would burn the mealie crops and kill us and our wives and children‚” the men said.
The men said the incident took place on September 7 last year and not on August 17‚ as the state had indicated to the court.
According to the state‚ Mlotshwa had been walking on a footpath when he was accosted by the men.
“Mlotshwa was accosted by accused 1 [Oosthuizen] who said he does not want a k*ff*r on his farm‚” the indictment read.
The state alleged that the men had handcuffed Mlotshwa and put him on the back of a bakkie.
“They threatened to put a snake in the coffin and pour petrol on him.”
Mlotshwa told the court that he had not stolen anything or done anything to provoke the two men to attack him.
He claimed to have been hitchhiking to Middelburg when he was attacked and accused of stealing.
Mlotshwa said the men had told him they would shoot him if he tried to run and that he had told them what they wanted to hear in order to save his life.
Source: TMG Digital.