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South African court cuts prison sentence for farmers in coffin case | South Africa News


A South African court cut the sentences of two white farmers who forced a black man into a coffin and threatened to kill him, causing outrage across the country.

Willem Oosthuizen and Theo Martins Jackson had their convictions for attempted murder and intimidation overturned by the Supreme Court of Appeals on Monday.


"This court determined that the appellants should have been convicted of assault with the intention of doing serious bodily harm instead of attempted murder," said Judge Yvonne Thokozile Mbatha, condemning each man to five years in prison.

"I have considered the justification of the sentence, namely deterrence, retribution and rehabilitation," said Mbatha.

He also handed each man a one-year sentence for kidnapping, while Jackson received an additional year in prison for defeating the ends of justice by attacking the only witness in an attempt to prevent him from testifying.

The shorter terms will be executed simultaneously with the five-year sentence.

Controversial case

Originally, the couple had been sentenced to 16 and 19 years in October 2017 after a video of their act in the eastern province of Mpumalanga went viral.

South Africa is beset by deeply rooted racial inequality, even after the end of the white minority government in 1994, and images of racist incidents shared on social networks often become viral.

The men pleaded not guilty and said the incident was only intended to scare Victor Mlotshwa, who was accused of stealing copper wires from his farm.

They were convicted of attempted murder, as well as kidnapping, intimidation and aggression with the intention of doing serious bodily harm.

Two clips from the 2016 incident, taken on their mobile phones, showed the men pushing Mlotshwa toward the wooden coffin and pressing the lid with their boots while begging for mercy.

They are also seen threatening to put a snake in the coffin.

Throughout the case, the men denied that their actions caused the victim to fear for his life.