The coffin assault victim was in high spirits on Thursday outside a Mpumalanga court, where two white men were applying for bail for allegedly assaulting and shoving him into a coffin.
Theo Martins Jackson and Willem Oosthuizen, who first appeared in the the Middleburg Magistrate’s Court on November 16 when they dropped their bail bids, were on Thursday again asking the court to set them free.
They have been charged with kidnapping and assault of Victor Rethabile Mlotshwa with intent to do grievous bodily harm.
During the tea break, the victim of the alleged assault, Mlotshwa, walked out of the court. Flanked by a number of African National Congress (ANC) officials and a few of his family members, Mlotshwa shook hands and shared jokes outside the court.
The alleged assault of Mlotshwa reportedly took place at JM de Beer Boerdery near the Komati power station. A video of the incident went viral on social media and was later removed from YouTube.
In the video, one of the two white men can be heard threatening to douse Mlotshwa, who is black, with petrol, while another forcefully pushes the victim into a coffin and tries to close the lid.
Mlotshwa reportedly said he was accused of land invasion and assaulted and shoved into a coffin. During the initial court hearing, Mlotshwa said he had feared for his life.
Addressing the crowd of ANC members from the back of the truck outside the court on Thursday, Nkangala district party chairperson, Speedy Mashilo, urged Democratic Alliance (DA) members to join the fight against racism.
“We will make this case very big,” said Mashilo.
“As a disciplined force of the left, we must call on everyone to join us. We are not doing this only for Victor but for everyone. I saw father Masango of the DA [Mpumalanga leader of the DA James Masango] here earlier on. He must come and join us.”
While ANC members were singing and dancing, their DA counterparts stood in small groups outside the court. A man and a woman wearing Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) berets were also seen dancing to the tunes of the ANC crowd’s songs.
Masango said DA members were not singing and dancing like ANC members because his party did not apply for a permit to picket outside the court.
Commenting on the bail application, Masango said it was up to the court to decide on whether to grant the duo bail or not.
“We don’t agree with racism but also believe in the rule of law,” said Masango.
The bail hearing continues.