Two Jailed Over South Africa Coffin Case

Saul Bowman
October 28, 2017

A court in South Africa Friday has sentenced two white farmers who attempted to force a black man into a coffin to 11 and 14 years in prison.

Willem Oosthuizen and Theo Jackson were also sentenced for kidnapping, intimidation and assault with GBH in a trial that showed the deep the racial divisions that still exist in troubled South Africa.

The incident rose to national and worldwide prominence after a 20-second video emerged of the two white men forcing their victim Victor Mlotshwa into a coffin and threatening to put petrol and a snake inside.

Delivering her sentencing in the Middelburg Magistrate's Court, Judge Segopotje Mphahlele described the crime as appalling, disgusting and dehumanizing.

She said their behaviour raised and fuelled racial tension.

Jackson was sentenced to 14 years and Oosthuizen 11 years for their roles in the assault.

It is vile that two white men chose to take the law into their own hands and teach a man who is vulnerable to their power a lesson for common theft.


The incident caused nationwide outrage bringing back bitter memories of the apartheid system, in which black South Africans were oppressed for decades due to their race. In truth, the two men still don't believe they did anything wrong.

From the start, Jackson and Oosthuizen pleaded not guilty to all the charges even though they admitted that they had placed Mlotshwa in the coffin because they wanted to "scare him".

Also, the defence in its reaction has requested permission to appeal the court ruling.

"Why shouldn't we, when you are killing our farm?" one replied.

The two said they had caught the victim trespassing on their farm in possession of stolen copper cables.

The Economic Freedom Fighters said the political party also found Oosthuizen and Jackson guilty of anti-black racism which was the sole motivator of their hate crime.

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