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Bail for accused in S.African coffin assault case

Willem Oosthuizen and Theo Jackson apprearing before Court. They are accused of kidnapping and assaulting Rethabile Mlotshwa.

Johannesburg, South Africa | AFP | Two white South African farmers accused of pushing a black labourer into a coffin and threatening to burn him alive were granted bail on Friday.

The assault was captured on video apparently filmed on a mobile phone by one of the alleged assailants, causing widespread outrage after it was posted on the internet.

Willem Oosthuizen and Theo Martins Jackson who have been charged with assault and kidnapping, were granted bail of 1,000 rand ($76) by Middelburg Magistrate’s Court.

Their trial has been set to start on July 31.

The two men were arrested in November after the 20-second video of the attack on a farm in northeastern South Africa appeared online.

It shows one of the assailants shoving the alleged victim Victor Mlotshwa, 27, into a wooden coffin and trying to force down the lid.

They are also accused of threatening to put a snake in the coffin.

In court documents, the defendants said they were not racist, and that they wanted to “give a lesson” to Mlotshwa for walking on private property.

South Africa remains beset by deep-rooted inequality 22 years after the end of white-minority rule, and cases of racism have erupted regularly on social media in recent years.

“Of course we are disappointed that these two guys were given bail today,” said a spokeswoman for the ruling ANC party outside the court.

“We are here to ensure justice is served… The issue for racism in South Africa is still rife. We expect the justice system to address this,” she said.

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