Two white South African men who are accused of ordering a Black man into a coffin and threatening to set him on fire have appeared in court, while demonstrators protested outside the courthouse against the racism that caused such a case to begin with.
Some of the protesters at the courthouse included members of the Economic Freedom Fighters, a group that supports a type of reparations: They want the land held by white South Africans to be redistributed to everyone.
Party members of the African National Congress party and other opposing parties gathered on Wednesday in the town of Middelburg, which is in Mpumalanga province, South Africa, to protest the case and upcoming trial. The trial for the two accused, farmers Theo Martins Jackson and Willem Oosthuizen, will be begin Jan. 25.
A video of the incident has been circulating on social media, strengthening the conversation surrounding South Africa’s legacy of apartheid, which ended in 1994, as well as the ongoing white supremacy and anti-Blackness in their society.
The video shows the Black man flinching and yelping in a coffin while one of his white assailants partially pushes the lid over his head and upper body. In the video, one of the white men can be heard threatening to pour gasoline on the entombed Black man so they can set him on fire. They also threaten to put a snake in the coffin with him.
According to South African media outlets, the victim of the assault, Victor Rethabile Mlotshwa, had been accused of trespassing on the farmland of the white men.
South Africa’s government famously received praise for the efforts it took to reconcile and unify racial groups once apartheid ended. However, many Black South Africans have continued to express their frustration that, though social and legislative conditions may no longer legalize segregation, Black people have not seen any economic benefits from a truly racially equal society and democracy. The income of the average white household is six times that of a Black household in South Africa, according to the country’s 2011 census data.