Two white South African men are facing assault charges after appearing in a footage of them forcing a black man into a coffin and threatening to set him on fire.
The video, which circulated on social media, shows a man identified as Victor Rethabile Mlotshwa, cowering and moaning in a coffin as one of his tormentors pushes part of the lid on to his head and upper body. A man is also heard threatening to pour gasoline in the coffin. And another threat is to put a snake in the coffin.
The assaulted man said the two men accused him of trespassing on their farm after he used a footpath in the area.
According to the News24, Mlotshwa said, “The next thing, there was a grave and then a coffin. There was nothing I could do because the other man had a gun.”
Members of the ruling African National Congress party and opposition parties gathered outside the court in Middelburg in Mpumalanga province, where the judge postponed the case against the two detained farmers until January 25.
South Africa media reports that the two men said they did not apply for bail because they would fear for their lives if released.
The Economic Freedom Fighters, a political opposition party, described the incident as a reminder of the racism that lingers in South Africa 22 years after the end of white minority rule.
The party wants land held by the white minority to be redistributed to poor blacks. Protesters at the courthouse included their members.
“They still benefit out of a crime, a crime against humanity,” Mbuyiseni Ndlozi, a spokesman for the opposition group, said while speaking on the issue of white minority.
Ndlozi said it was wrong to forgive whites after apartheid but “still keep them in a position of dominance.”
According to South Africa’s 2011 census data, the income of the average white household is six times that of a black household.
The foundation of F.W. de Klerk, South Africa’s last apartheid-era president, said the assault on Mlotshwa was dehumanising and humiliating.
“We hope the justice system will reach an outcome that restores a measure of dignity to Mr. Mlotshwa,” the foundation said.