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Two S.African farmers found guilty in ‘coffin assault’ case: judge

South Africans Willem Oosthuizen (L) and Theo Martins Jackson (R) arrive at The Middleburg Magistrate Court on November 16, 2016, during the first hearing of assault charges/AFP

MIDDELBURG, South Africa, Aug 25 – A South African judge on Friday found two white farmers guilty of attempted murder after they filmed themselves forcing a black man into a coffin and threatening to burn him alive.

“For attempted murder of Mr (Victor) Mlotshwa, I hereby find you both guilty,” judge Segopotje Mphahlele told the accused before supporters of the victim burst out in celebratory songs in the courtroom.

Willem Oosthuizen and Theo Martins Jackson, both wearing jackets and ties, were also found guilty of kidnap, intimidation, and assault with intent to do grievous bodily harm.

They had pleaded not guilty over the incident last year in the eastern province of Mpumalanga, saying they only intended to scare Mlotshwa after he allegedly stole copper cables from their farm.

Two clips of footage taken on their mobile phones showed the assailants shoving Mlotshwa down into the wooden coffin and pressing the lid closed with their boots as he begged for his life.

Activists from rival political parties, including the ruling African National Congress and the main opposition Democratic Alliance, rallied outside the court and attended each day of the trial.

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