AFRICANGLOBE – Distressing footage showing a South African man forcing a wailing Black man into a coffin and threatening to set fire to it has gone viral across social media in South Africa, re-igniting the debate about racial conflict that continues to blight the ‘rainbow nation’.
Thousands of comments about the footage are split about who the real ‘victim’ is in the appalling scene – highlighting how divided the country remains more than two decades after the end of apartheid.
In the 20-second clip, shot on a mobile phone, a white male – thought to be a farmer – is seen dropping a large stick in order to cram a clearly petrified Black man into the wooden casket, ordering him to ‘get in, I want to throw some petrol.’
As a second male, holding the camera, is heard threatening to ‘put a snake’ in with the younger Black man who struggles and squeals in terror as a lid is closed on him.
Throughout, the two white men yell in Afrikaans and Zulu, which is spoken mainly by native South Africans, and some white farmers to communicate with their African workers.
The white man wears a khaki coloured hat, shirt, shorts and boots that are the unofficial uniform of South African farmers and his victim in the coffin wears the black football strip of Orlando Pirates, one of Johannesburg’s most popular football teams.
While the majority of commentators have widely condemned the brutality as typical of the lingering racism that has punctuated South Africa’s uneasy transformation following the end of white rule, others are speculating that the film’s victim is being justifiably punished for allegedly “posing a threat”.
Tensions between whites and non-whites appears to be worse than ever.
In January this year, the South African Human Rights Commission received 160 racism-related complaints, the highest monthly figure in its 20-year history.
Pro-white groups claim it is they who are in need of protecting.
The country’s conservative Transvaal Agricultural Union claims that nearly 3,000 violent attacks on farm and more than 1,600 farm murders since 1990.
Last year, the organisation complained to the UN that the group were a ‘persecuted minority’ – whites make up just nine per cent of the population, but still command higher wages and dominate the most lucrative industries.
The ruling party, the African National Congress (ANC), is trying to pass an ‘anti-racism’ law that would jail anyone guilty of ‘racial bigotry’.
The increasingly popular opposition group, the Economic Freedom Fighters, has called for ‘a crusade against white supremacy’.
Violent protests on the country’s university campuses, mostly waged by African students over fees and the ongoing use of Afrikaans as an academic language, have led to some institutions abandoning the academic year altogether.
Dr Johann Burger, senior researcher from the Institute for Security Studies, predicted the video would be used by both sides of the racial divide to support their extreme views.
He said: ‘There is a great deal of challenges in South Africa at the moment, and a definite hardening of race relations with people increasingly feeling free to make racist statements on social media and that is contributing to rising tensions.
‘I am sure a video like this will be used by radical people on both sides of the racial argument as evidence to support their points of view.
‘However, I am extremely concerned that the government is considering resorting to law to try and outlaw racism and I cannot see how that will be an effective way to bring about more tolerance in South Africa. It could well make things worse,’ added Dr Burger.
By: Jane Flanagan
White Settlers Force African Into Coffin, Threaten To Burn Him Alive