Coffin case judge praised for verdict


The South African Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) in the province has praised judge Sekgopotje Mphahlele for showing respect to the country’s Constitution when passing judgment on farmers Theo Martins Jackson and Willem Oosthuizen last week.

The duo was jailed for a total of 25 years for assaulting Victor Rethabile Mlotshwa after forcing him into a coffin, threatening to put a snake inside and dousing him with petrol.

The brutal incident occurred on their farm in Middelburg in August last year.

The court heard that the coffin was specially purchased to scare black people who allegedly committed crimes on their farms.

Related: Judge denies Coffin Assault duo application for leave to appeal judgement

Mphahlele was hailed by the SAHRC for adhering to the preambles of the Republic’s Constitution when she handed down her judgment.

Jonas Sibanyoni, a commissioner deployed in the province by the SAHRC to conduct a brief overseeing to the court sentencing proceedings, said they were satisfied with the verdict.

“We are indeed satisfied about the manner in which the judge handled the case, especially because she considered the preambles of the Constitution since the convicts violated people’s rights and acted against our Constitution,” Sibanyoni said.

Mphahlele ruled that the convicts had violated the complainant’s Bill of Rights.

“The accused violated the rights and human dignity of the victim. The evidence before the court is also that the accused used the ‘K’ word during the attack.

“They assaulted the victim (Mlotshwa) and asked him if he wanted to die quicker or slowly.

The action of the accused is inhumane. In our society, there are increasing actions of intolerance.

“The action of the accused shows that the state still has more to do to ensure that those who undermine the Bill of Rights are being brought to book,” Mphahlele said.