Coffin assault sentencing needed to obliterate racism - Cyril Ramaphosa

DP says stringent punishment for this act of white on black crime required to build non-racial country

Coffin assault sentencing action needed to obliterate racism - Ramaphosa

Johannesburg - Deputy president Cyril Ramaphosa has welcomed the sentencing of the coffin assault duo, calling it a step in the right direction towards obliterating racism.

Speaking at an Oliver Tambo lecture in the Western Cape’s Dulah Omar region, Ramaphosa said the sentencing of Willem Oosthuizen and Theo Jackson are the "types of action from our courts, from our justice system that we will be able to demonstrate that we want to obliterate racism from the face of South Africa forever and that this country must be a non-racial country.

This, he said, was what Tambo stood for.

"We must also make sure that non-racism is also practised within our own movement. Within the ANC. We must demonstrate that we have embraced non-racialism completely," he added.

He said the country should reflect on how such hate crimes are possible and what can be done to change such attitudes that give right to them.

"We need to bridge the divide between South Africans by actively promoting engagement and understanding. We need also to bridge the economic divide between South Africans," he said.

The pair, Willem and Theo, were sentenced to 11 and 14 years respectively in the Middleburg Magistrate’s Court on Friday.

They were convicted of assault, attempted murder, kidnapping and intimidation charges for forcing Victor Mlotshwa into a coffin and threatening to pour petrol on him. The coffin was later burnt out and Jackson was also sentenced for defeating the ends of justice.

Judge Segopotje Mphahlele described their conduct as "humiliating and disgusting" when she imposed the sentences, News24 reported earlier.