Home » Family cry as racist South African farmers bags over a decade in prison

Family cry as racist South African farmers bags over a decade in prison

by Family Center
Family cry as racist South African farmers bags over a decade in prison -dailyfamily.ng

Family members of Oosthuizen and Jackson cried bitterly as a Middelburg Magistrate’s Court on Friday sentenced the two white farmers to 11 and 14 years in jail, respectively.

Two white farmers, Willem Oosthuizen and Theo Jackson, who were found guilty of kidnapping assaulting and intent to do grievous bodily harm to a black man who they shoved in a coffin and threatened to set ablaze have been sentenced to more than 10 years in prison by a South African court.

The accused were sentenced to 11 and 14 years in jail, respectively.

The sentence was heard at the Middelburg Magistrate’s Court on Friday after it had been postponed last Monday.

A heavy silence hit the court as the sentences were handed out to the accused. Tears rolled uncontrollably from the eyes of family members of Oosthuizen and Jackson as they sat together in the court.

The case which shook the whole of South Africa saw an outpouring support for the victim, Victor Mlothshwa. The incident, which took place in August 2016, caught the country’s attention after mobile phone footage was widely watched online.

Victimized Victor Mlothshwa -dailyfamily.ng

Victimized Victor Mlothshwa -dailyfamily.ng

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While saying his judgement, Judge Segopotje Mphahlele said the thing causing consternation about the crime the men committed was that they put a living person in a coffin.

“The conduct of the accused fueled racial division … in a society of increasing racial intolerance,” Mphahlele said.

About 500 people, many in party regalia of the ANC and the Democratic Party, could be seen waving party flags and holding up banners that called for an end to racism.

An ANC sponsored mobile stage was set up outside the court as local and regional leaders took turns to address the hundreds of the supporters who had come from surrounding areas to show their support for the victimized Mlotshwa.

Likewise in a show of solidarity for their own, about 30 white farmers were also present at the court, standing adjacent to the entrance of the court looking on, mostly in silence, as the crowd danced, sang, and shouted slogans.

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Speaking for his client, the defence lawyers representing the accused earlier plead with the court to be lenient, alleging Mlothshwa was riding a wave of public outrage ever since the video of him being assaulted in a coffin went viral in 2016.

In the video which has already had good numbers of views, Oosthuizen and Jackson were seen trying to close the lid of the coffin with their boots as Mlothshwa begged for his life.

The accused have also been heard in the video hurling abuses and threatening to douse him with petrol and set him on fire.

According to Al-Jazeera reports the assault took place on a farm close to Komati power station in Middelburg, a northeastern town, and spurred national outrage, prompting recollections of the country’s racist past.

Jackson’s lawyer, Carel Taute, said he believed the sentencing was too harsh.

“The whole case is strange – even the fact that it was taken to the High Court when there was no murder,” he told Al Jazeera. “Then we had media attention almost the entire time. The media attention, to me, seemed to fuel the tenor of the trial.

“I find it ironic that the judge said that the judgement had to build relations within the community. I am afraid this will do the opposite.”

A communications officer for the Ahmed Kathrada Foundation, Zaakirah Vadi, told Al Jazeera that the sentencing had to be seen within the larger context of racial and social dynamics in South Africa.

“This ruling sends a strong message that there is no place for blatant racism in South Africa and we hope that it serves as a deterrent to others,” Vadi said.

The Minister of Arts and Culture Nathi Mthethwa praised the jail terms in a tweet.

“We welcome the sentences handed down on the #CoffinAssault culprits who were respectively sentenced to 11 & 14 years direct imprisonment.”

Mthethwa has also described the prison term as “a stern warning” that “illustrates that we will not tolerate racism in our society”.

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