Outrage has greeted the decision of a court to grant bail to Theo Martins Jackson and Willem Oosthuizen, two White South African farmers accused of beating up Victor Mlotshwa, a Black man, and forcing him in to a coffin.
There was a reported “outcry in the courtroom” by those who likely thought the bail was too small as Jackson and Oosthuizen were granted bail for the sum of R1000 ($77) by the Middelburg Magistrate’s Court Friday, according to IOL.
Last November, a video surfaced online of Jackson and Oosthuizen beating up Mlotshwa before forcing him in to a coffin while threatening to burn him alive in Middelburg, about 160km east of Johannesburg:
The 20-second video of the degrading treatment, which went viral on social media, sparked widespread outrage in the country with hundreds of South Africans condemning the men’s action under the hashtag #CoffinAlive.
The pair were arrested in November and charged with assault and causing grievous bodily harm.
During the pre-trial, the accused pair told the court that Mlotshwa was trespassing on their property in Middelburg and was in possession of stolen copper cables. They maintained that they meant no harm to Mlotshwa and only wanted to teach him a lesson for trespassing.
Mlotshwa, however, said he was kidnapped while walking down a road, “They were accusing me of trespassing. They beat me up and forced me in to the coffin,” he said.
An earlier application for bail in January was denied by the courts on the grounds that it could spark long-standing racial tensions in the country.
Still, the controversial pair were eventually granted bail, and now the trial is expected to take place between 31 July and 10 August.