Bail denied in S.Africa coffin assault on black man
A South African court on Thursday denied bail to two white farmers accused of pushing a black labourer into a coffin and threatening to burn him alive.
The shocking attack was caught in footage apparently filmed on a mobile phone by one of the alleged assailants, causing outrage.
Willem Oosthuizen, 28, and Theo Martins Jackson, 29, who face assault and kidnapping charges, will now spend Christmas behind bars until the next hearing in January.
“It will not be in the interests of justice (to release the defendants),” Judge Jongilizwe Dumehleli said. “I denied bail.”
The two men remained emotionless, their heads bowed, after the ruling, which triggered applause in the public gallery and from the alleged victim Victor Mlotshwa.
The next hearing in the case has been set for January 25.
The two men were arrested in November after the 20-second video of the attack near a farm in northeastern South Africa was posted online.
It shows one of the assailants shoving a black man, clearly in distress, into a wooden coffin and trying to force down the lid.
“Come, come. We want to throw the petrol on,” said one of the men, speaking Afrikaans, according to local media.
They are also accused of threatening to put a snake in the coffin.
In a document submitted to the court, the defendants said they were not racist, and said the wanted to “give a lesson” to Mlotshwa for walking on private property.
However, the magistrate said Thursday that the farmers had called Mlotshwa a “kaffir,” a pejorative term for a black person.
Despite its long history of institutionalised racism under the apartheid regime, South Africa does not have legislation that criminalises racism and it remains beset by deep-rooted inequality 22 years after the end of white-minority rule.
Cases of racism have erupted regularly on social media in recent years.