East London - President Jacob Zuma said the two men who forced Victor Mlotshwa into a coffin and threatened him need to face the full might of the law.
The incident, which showed Willem Oosthuizen and Theo Martins Jackson forcing Mlotshwa into a coffin on a farm in Middelburg, Mpumalanga, went viral on social media.
Oosthuizen and Jackson were denied bail when they appeared in the local court this week. The two have been remanded in custody until January 25, after they declined bail.
Speaking at a National Council of Province’s Taking Parliament to the People session at Abbotsford Christian Centre in East London on Friday, Zuma said the incident was “shocking, painful and despicable in the extreme”.
“Allow me to strongly condemn the painful treatment meted out to Mr Victor Mlotshwa from Middelburg, who was beaten up, put in a coffin and threatened with being burnt alive by two men who reportedly accused him of trespassing.
“The incident is a reminder of the deep-seated racist attitudes that still prevail among some in our country, who still regard black people as lesser human beings,” said Zuma.
He said the perpetrators of this crime and “all others who commit various acts of racism in our non-racial democracy must face the full might of the law”.
Before the president’s address, some EFF members walked out of the venue, saying Zuma had broken the oath of office and had no right to speak at the sitting. Outside the venue, some EFF members were chanting anti-Zuma songs.
Security was tight, with police closely watching the EFF.