Middelburg – The 5-year-old daughter of one of the men who forced Victor Mlotshwa into a coffin was so angry with her father, she told people he was dead.
The wives of Theo Jackson and Willem Oosthuizen broke their silence on the eve of their husbands’ sentencing on Friday.
After their husbands were arrested and convicted of assault, kidnapping, intimidation and attempted murder, Chane Oosthuizen and Rianie Jackson have been struggling to get by.
The Oosthuizens have been living off donations and selling fruit and vegetables to get by, while the Jacksons sold off all their possessions to feed their children.
The High Court sitting in the Middelburg Magistrate’s Court will sentence the men on Friday. Both women have pleaded with the court for mercy.
Speaking to News24 this week, Rianie, 28, said her husband should be punished fairly.
She and her husband have three daughters, aged 9, 6 and 5.
They have been together for 10 years. She said the case was a shock to her family.
“I have never thought that this type of thing would happen to us as a family. The hardest was watching my kids go through the trauma. All of them had a different reaction.”
She said their 9-year-old old daughter became quiet after the news broke.
“My middle daughter took it harder.”
Rianie said her daughter had lost interest in her school.
“My youngest daughter  had the worst reaction. She was angry with her father. She even told people that her father is dead. It was as if she thought it would be better if he was not there.
“At first it didn’t affect me that much. I thought it would be over soon. And we can continue with our lives. But the longer the case got dragged out, the worse it got.”
Rianie sold everything she owned. Every month got harder, she said.
When Jackson was released from prison on bail, he immediately found a job. But now her fear is how they will survive if he goes back to jail.
“I have nothing else to sell,” she said. “He did something wrong. Yes. He should be punished but he is a first offender. He did not murder anyone.
”He has remorse for what he did,” she said, adding that the State and social media had deemed him racist.
“He has been branded as someone he is not,” she said.
Meanwhile, Oosthuizen’s wife Chane, 24, said she did not think that the case would go far.
“We knew the truth and they told the truth. I can’t tell the feeling they had when Victor threatened their wives and [crops ].”
During their trial, the pair said they caught Mlotshwa with suspected stolen copper cable.
They alleged that Mlotshwa had threatened their wives and to burn their crops every year.
Chane said that since the case, she had started living on anti-depressants.
“I can say I forgave Victor because my life changed as well. I went to a women’s camp and had the chance to ask God to help me and after that weekend I felt no resentment towards Victor,” she said.
Her husband went to jail while her youngest child was six weeks old – and the other was 14 months old.
Since Oosthuizen’s release on bail, they have been living on donations and have also tried selling fruits and vegetables.
During their trial, the men told the court that they did not apologise to Mlotshwa because they did not see anything wrong with what they did.
Emotions ran high when the two-minute-long video showing Mlotshwa being forced into a coffin was played in court.
Mlotshwa’s mother, Lonia wept and walked out of court after watching the video.
Some members of the public also wept, while some watched the video while covering their mouths with their hands