Warning: Viewers may find the contents of this video disturbing.
After more than two decades since the abolition of apartheid, the black community in South Africa is still struggling with racial violence and widespread abuse. In fact, the tension between the whites and non-whites seems to be at an all-time high.
The distressing video above is an avid example of that.
The footage, allegedly filmed on a farm in KwaZulu-Natal, shows a white man wearing the unofficial uniform of South African farmers (a khaki hat, shirt, shorts and boots), cramming a terrified black man, who appears to be worker, into a wooden coffin.
While it is unclear what crime the young man allegedly committed, nothing could have warranted such brutal and inhumane punishment.
The 20-second clip, recorded on a mobile phone by the farmer’s acquaintance, also includes the part where the two men, yelling in Afrikaans and Zulu, threaten to put a snake in the coffin while trying to close the lid.
One of them then threatens to pour some petrol over the younger black man and set him on fire.
“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,” Johann Burger, senior researcher from the Institute for Security Studies, told Mail Online.
He also expressed concerns about the ruling African National Congress’ attempts to criminalize hate speech. If approved by the parliament, the Prevention and Combating of Hate Crimes and Hate Speech bill would send anyone found guilty of “racial bigotry” to jail for at least 10 years.
“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,” Burger added. “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.”
If South Africa ends up adopting the law, it certainly would not be the first country where hate speech is a crime. The United Kingdom, Canada, France, Germany, along with several other countries, have similar laws in place to tackle the problem.
Meanwhile, the United States, which shares a tragic yet equally brutal history (and present) of racism by whites against blacks, protects almost all forms of expression — no matter how offensive of hurtful.
“Race and racism should be understood as structural problems, problems of inequality, to be resolved through a program of justice and not criminalization,” explained Joel Modiri, a lecturer at the University of Pretoria. “Here you have a black-majority society that is essentially demanding protection from a white minority. It’s revealing the deeper problem that you have a majority in this country that is fundamentally powerless.”
The crime statistics show it is almost twice as dangerous to be a white farmer than a police officer in South Africa. Pro-white groups even claim they need protection and portray themselves as a persecuted minority.