‘The many faces of apartheid era sense of entitlement in a post-apartheid age’
Two white South African farmers are found guilty of attempted murder after filming themselves forcing a black man into a coffin and threatening to burn him alive
Theo Jackson and Willem Oosthuizen are accused of assaulting and forcing a farm worker, Victor Mlotshwa into a coffin on Nov 16, 2016 in Mpumalanga, South Africa
Willem Oosthuizen and Theo Martins Jackson, both white men, were found guilty of attempted murder
Despite the video evidence, they had both pled not guilty to an attack on Mlotshwa, who is a black man
Farmers claimed they had only intended to scare the victim for ‘stealing copper’
Video footage was shot on mobile phone showing Mlotshwa begging for his life as Oosthuizen and Jackson struggled to close the coffin, threatening to throw in a live snake as well
Two South African farmers have been found guilty of attempted murder after they filmed themselves forcing a man into a coffin and threatening to burn him alive.
Supporters of the victim burst out in celebratory songs in the courtroom after judge Segopotje Mphahlele told the accused that ‘for attempted murder of Mr Victor Mlotshwa, I hereby find you both guilty.’
Willem Oosthuizen and Theo Martins Jackson, both white, were also found guilty of kidnap, intimidation and assault with intent to do grievous bodily harm.
They had pled not guilty over the incident last year in the eastern province of Mpumalanga, saying they only intended to scare Mlotshwa, who is a black man, after he allegedly stole copper cables from their farm.
Sheer terror: Willem Oosthuizen and Theo Martins Jackson, both white, were found guilty of kidnap and assault with intent to do grievous bodily harm to Victor Mlotshwa [photo], in Mpumalanga, South Africa on Nov 16, 2016
‘Please don’t kill me.’ The video shows the victim, Victor Mlotshwa begging for his life as the two men swear at him and tell him they are going to throw a snake in with him. One of the assailants tried to push his head into the coffin with the lid
Two white farmers Theo Jackson and Willem Oosthuize nwere found guilty of the attempted murder of Victor Mlotshwa [photo]
Suspects Willem Oosthuizen[left], and Theo Jackson [right], in the dock at Middelburg Magistrates Court during their trial as the case unfolded
Readying for the verdict: Theo Jackson and Willem Oosthuizen confer in the Delmas Magistrates Court in Delmas, South Africa on July 31, 2017
Two clips of footage taken on their mobile phones showed the assailants shoving Mlotshwa down into the wooden coffin and pressing the lid closed with their boots as he begged for his life.
Rival activists from the ruling African National Congress, the main opposition Democratic Alliance and the radical Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) rallied outside court and attended each day of the trial.
When the first phone footage emerged several months ago, it triggered national outrage and led to the arrest of the two men.
‘Please don’t kill me,’ Mlotshwa begged the men while in the coffin, the footage shown.
‘Why shouldn’t we, when you are killing our farm?’ one replied.
Mlotshwa was in court to hear the verdicts against the two men, who had alleged that Mlotshwa had threatened to kill their families and burn farm crops before being forced into the coffin.
Did they expect to get away with it even after posting on social media? Theo Jackson and Willem Oosthuizen contemplate their fate during their appearance at the Middelburg Magistrates Court for allegedly assaulting and forcing a farm worker, Victor Mlotshwa into a coffin on November 16, 2016 in Mpumalanga, South Africa
Incensed: Public outcry in the Theo Jackson and Willem Oosthuizen vsVictor Mlotshwa case
South Africa is beset by deep-rooted racial inequality 23 years after the end of white-minority apartheid rule, and cases of racism have erupted regularly on social media in recent years.
Outside the court on Friday, protesters carried mock coffins decorated with pictures of the accused and called for them to be found guilty on all charges.
On the phone footage, one of the men said ‘Come, come. We want to throw the petrol on’.
They are also threatened to put a snake in the coffin.
Mlotshwa said he was walking to the town of Middelburg to buy provisions for his mother and had decided to use a short cut when the two men spotted him.
Public pressure: Supporters of the ruling African National Congress [ANC] party, hold aloft a poster bearing the faces of co-accused Willem Oosthuizen and Theo Martins Jackson outside court, Friday
Theo Martins [left], and Willem Oosthuizen [right], appraised of developments in the trial by with a member of their legal team at Friday’s hearing
Theo Jackson and Willem Oosthuizen watch with apprehension as the verdict is about to be handed down: ‘This hideous case lays bare the discrimination that still runs deep in South African society’ – Shenilla Mohamed, Amnesty International South Africa Executive Director, said:
The gulf in reactions from both sides to the guilty verdict in the coffin assault case by the Middleburg High Court earlier today, portrays the deep divide and expectations in a society still largely defined by race.
While the convicted men’s families told local media they were shocked over the verdicts, Shenilla Mohamed, Amnesty International South Africa Executive Director, said: ‘This hideous case lays bare the discrimination that still runs deep in South African society.
‘The fact that the whole grotesque episode was captured on video and then posted to social media suggests that the perpetrators felt little concern that they would face justice.
‘There is no place for racism or discrimination in any society, and this terrible case must spur the government to finalize the Hate Crimes legislation in order to deal decisively with incidents of discrimination.’
Sentencing was to be scheduled by the court later Friday.