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2 South Africans sentenced for putting black man inside coffin

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Theo Jackson and Willem Oosthuizen get 14 and 11 years jail term respectively. Photo: Al Jazeera

Two white South Africans who forced a black man into a coffin have been given harsh sentences, with the judge saying Thursday that they showed no remorse for the racist crime which shocked the nation.

The two farmers, Theo Jackson and Willem Oosthuizen, got 14 and 11 years respectively after being found guilty of assault, kidnapping and attempted murder.

They had forced the victim, Victor Mlothshwa, into a coffin and threatened to set it alight as a terrified Mlothshwa begged for his life.

The farmers claimed he had stolen copper cables from the farm.

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Mobile phone footage of the incident went viral in South Africa, where 23 years after the end of apartheid racial divisions still run deep.

“The conduct of the accused was most dehumanizing and disgusting,” Judge Segopotje Mphahlele told the court in Middleburg, Mpumalanga province.

“The pain and trauma experienced (by the victim) can only be imagined,” she said.

Mlothshwa appeared emotional hearing the sentences handed down, repeatedly wiping his face with a handkerchief, while his supporters in the court broke into song.

For their part, the two farmers looked in shock, placing their heads in their hands while their families burst into tears, NAN said.

Judge Mphahlele said that the two men, aged 29 and 30, had shown no remorse and had maintained they did nothing wrong, despite having spent most of their lives in a democratic South Africa.

“The conduct of the accused fuelled division and racial tensions. In our society there are increasing acts of racial intolerance and racially motivated crimes,” she said.

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