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Coffin duo's sentences should be a deterrent - minister

Coffin duo's sentences should be a deterrent - minister

A South African judge yesterday handed down jail terms of 19 and 16 years to two white farmers who filmed themselves forcing a black man into a coffin and threatening to burn him alive.

The human rights NGO was responding to news that Willem Oosthuizen and Theo Martins Jackson were on Friday sentenced to 11 and 14 years imprisonment respectively in the Middelburg High Court.

It shows the two men forcing Mlotshwa into a wooden coffin, using their power in a way that hearkens back to the days of apartheid.

Oosthuizen was handed 11 years for his role as an accessory to the crime whiles Jackson bagged 14 years as the main culprit.

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

The crime committed against Mlotshwa and the sentences imposed by the court highlight the need for the strengthening of the law with regard to crimes of hate speech and hate crimes in South Africa, Mathusa said in a statement.

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However, Judge Segopotje Mphahlele suspended five years of each man's sentence.

But prosecutor Robert Molokoane said the whole country was watching adding:"They had no respect for the law as they took the law into their own hands".

They were also caught on video of threatening to throw a snake in the coffin with their terrified prisoner.

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". "Why shouldn't we, when you are killing our farm?" responded one of the defendants in the video.

Mlotshwa only reported the matter after footage of the assault emerged on YouTube months later.

The two farmers were found guilty in August.