Farmers who forced man into coffin plead not guilty two white South African farmers accused of forcing a black man into a coffin on Monday pleaded not guilty to charges of kidnapping, assault and attempted murder.

Theo Jackson and Willem Oosthuizen, both 28, were making their first court appearance after the Middleburg Magistrate court granted them bail in mid-July.

They reiterated their stance that they meant no harm to victim and that they had only acted to deter him from trespassing on their property.

The decision to grant them a $77 (1,000 rand) bail sparked outrage in the court. Their bail came after they had spent eight months in detention.

They were arrested after a video that showed them forcing a black South African, Victor Mlotshwa, into a coffin and threatening to burn him, went viral on social media.

In the said video, the two are heard threatening to burn their victim. They also told a freightened Mlotshwa that they will drop a snake into the coffin. The video cause outrage in the country where racial tensions are very strong.

The victim told reporters of his ordeal at the hands of the two farmers, stating that they had tied him up for hours and would not listen to him despite repeated pleadings for mercy.

“There’s a pathway through the farm to the township where I live and many of us walk through there. I tried to explain to them why I was there and they just kept beating me,” he said.

“They threatened to pour petrol on me, I pleaded for mercy and they wouldn’t listen. I have nightmares about that day. It traumatised me,” he added.

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