Two white South African men appeared in court today, Wednesday, 16th of November, 2016, on charges of assault and kidnapping after a video showed them forcing a wailing black man into a coffin.
The 20-second video, which went viral on social media, shows Victor Rethabile cowering inside a coffin as one man pushes a lid on his head and the other threatens to put petrol and a snake inside the casket.
Although not clear how it happened, however, Rethabile escaped. He told reporters outside court he wanted justice. He said,
“They were accusing me of trespassing. They beat me up and forced me into the coffin,”
The case has caused outrage in a country where racism still persists after the fall of apartheid 22 years ago. The two accused, Willem Oosthuizen and Theo Martins Jackson, appeared briefly in the Middelburg Magistrate court east of the capital Pretoria before the case was postponed until January 25. The men will remain in custody until the case resumes.
The radical left-wing Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) party, which campaigns for a more even distribution of wealth between white and black South Africans, led a rally outside the court.
“This humiliation can be based on nothing else but his blackness, which means it is in actual fact a humiliation of black people as a whole,” the EFF said in a statement.