Protesters in the South African town of Coligny set properties on fire to protest the bail application granted to two men, Pieter Doorewaard and Phillip Schutte, accused of killing teenager Matlhomola Moshoeu.
State prosecutors say White farmers Doorewaard, 26, and Schutte, 34, are guilty of assaulting and then killing 16-year-old Moshoeu by throwing him out of a moving vehicle on April 20th.
The pair, however, deny the charges, and claim instead that Moshoeu was apprehended as he tried to steal sunflowers from a farm. They also claim that the teen jumped out of their moving pickup truck as they drove him to a police station.
Magistrate Makgaola Foso told the court that while he was mindful of the fact that the Black community in the town are against granting the men their bail application, according to the BBC, it is his position that the judiciary should never be influenced or held captive by public opinion.
“There is no link between the said witness evidence and the two [accused] persons at this stage,” the magistrate said. Foso ultimately granted the accused bail with the sum of R5000 and adjourned the hearing of the case for June 26th.
At the decision, Moshoeu’s father, Sakkie Dingake, was reportedly inconsolable, making a scene and being warned in the court room.
“This is my son. They are now going back to work after killing my son so cruelly. What about my son? He is dead, he is sleeping forever,” Dingake cried.
Violent protests from the town’s Black residents were soon sparked, with at least three houses torched and several White-owned shops looted.
The fire service reportedly battled to put out the flames even as police helicopters hovered around the area with residents fearing that more properties may be attacked.
Journalists who were covering the protests were also reportedly attacked by the owners of properties targeted by the rioters and accused of inciting violence by covering the events.
While Apartheid has been officially declared over in South Africa, racial tensions that are an offshoot of a system that promoted segregation on the basis of race continue to exist to this day.