A South African court has denied bail to two white men that were charged with kidnap and assault after a video surfaced online showing the two forcing a wailing black man into a coffin, an act the presiding judge termed “brutal racism”.
The case is seen to have laid bare the racial tensions that hang on, more than two decades after the end of apartheid rule in 1994, as well as inequalities between black and white people.
A 20-second video went viral on social media showing Victor Mlotshwa screaming inside a coffin as one man pushed a lid on his head while the other was threatening to set the casket alight.
The public reacted angrily to the video, demanding that the men be sought and charged for their racist act.
The two accused, Willem Oosthuizen and Theo Jackson, told the court Mlotshwa was trespassing on their farm in Middelburg about 162 km (100 miles) east of Johannesburg and was in possession of stolen copper cables.
Denying the accused bail, Magistrate Jongilizwe Dumehleli said public outrage would worsen if the applicants were freed on bail.
“When the court looked at the tragedy as it unfolded, it is clear that the assault was triggered by brutal racism,” he said. The case was adjourned to Jan. 25.