First witness takes stand in coffin assault case

A first witness has been called by the state to come testify in the coffin assault case.

The employer of one of the accused in the assault of Victor Mlotshwa said the foot-path on which Mlotshwa was stopped and confronted is used by a number of people without permission but as farm-owners they often have problems when people use it to pass to their houses because of the issue of theft.

“We have a problem with it,” Johannes de Beer told the Delmas high court.

“But we don’t confront people for using it because it happens all the time,” he said.

He told the court that the coffin used by Willem Oosthuizen and Theo Martins in the video clip was bought by his father some time ago and was kept in a store-room.

He said when he learnt through the social media that his employee, Martins, had used it to assault and force Mlotshwa inside, he fumed and confronted him.

“I confronted him about the incident and told him to take that coffin because it’s now his own,” he said.

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“I also told him to go and hand himself over, but did not say where and he left the job after that but I don’t know whether he went to hand himself over to the police or what,” de Beer told the court on Monday.

“My father bought two coffins and a man who worked on the farm used another one to bury his family member. The other one was kept in the store room,” he said.

The trial will continue on 10 August 2017.

Oosthuizen and Martins were arrested in November 2016 for allegedly assaulting Mlotshwa and forcing him into a coffin on a farm near Middelburg.

The two men are charged with attempted murder, kidnapping, intimidation and assault and are out on a R1,000 bail each.

Their arrests came after the incident, captured on a cellphone video went viral on the social media.

They abandoned their bail applications on 16 November 2016 after they were informed the incident had angered many people but returned on 14 July 2017 to ask the court to reconsider granting them bail.

Groups from the ANCYL, EFF and DA demonstrated outside court throughout the day on Monday as the men were making their appearance.

(edited by MLM)

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