- Victor Mlotshwa, who was tormented by two white farm workers in the infamous “coffin case” says he worries about the day his three-year-old daughter finds out about what was done to him
- He feels he will forever remain known as “the coffin guy” with his face well known from the video which was shared widely on social media of his ordeal
- Having lived in rural areas his whole life, Mlotshwa says the coffin incident wasn’t the first of its kind and probably wouldn’t be the last either
How does someone who was tormented and tortured, forced into a coffin and threatened with death pick up the pieces and carry on with life?
This is a question which many of us might embark on as a thought exercise, but 29-year-old Victor Mlotshwa actually lived through such an experience, and has had to relive it due to how public the video of his ordeal was made after it was shared widely on social media.
Briefly.co.za learned that Victor Mlotshwa’s biggest worry is the day his now three-year-old daughter finds out about how he was dehumanised at the hands of two white men.
“I’m now called the ‘coffin guy’, I guess I’ll always have that title. My daughter is still too young to understand what happened but how will she feel when she grows up and finds out?” he asked.
The now infamous “coffin assault case” in which Mlotshwa was forced into a coffin and assaulted by two men, Willem Oosthuizen and Theo Jackson, took place in 2016. The two have since been sentenced to 14 and 11 years in prison for the assault.
The two men are now appealing the convictions and sentences, and his family have had to leave their home at Blinkpan informal settlement in Middelburg, Mpumalanga, where the incident happened.
However, were it not for the leaking of the video taken by the perpetrators showing the assaulted, they likely wouldn’t have been arrested and prosecuted.
“Up to this day, I cannot watch that video. The first and last time I watched it was in court and that was because I had to. That was the worst day of my life, their most painful. I have received counselling but I am still trying to heal,” said Mlotshwa.
Mlotshwa marked Human Rights Day to announce his plans to launch a foundation, which will focus on “breaking the silence” on racism. He says that there is a culture of silence about racism in the rural farming areas where he has lived most of his life. He wants people to know that his was not the first incident and it is unlikely to be the last. “People on farms do not speak out about the abuse. They live and work for these abusers and so they suffer in silence just so they don’t find themselves destitute,” he said.
“I do not hate white people because I know that not all of them are racist. As part of my counselling I was told that harbouring hate does not help, so I will not harbour any but to be honest, the relationship between black and white people there is not good. I stayed in that community for eight years and blacks have accepted that whites rule and there is nothing they can do about it.
“White people have always abused blacks and I had witnessed incidents of racism even before I experienced it. It’s like black people are programmed to think it’s normal for them to be abused. They are afraid to report the incidents,” he said. It is because of this that he has decided to start the Victor Mlotshwa Foundation, using his experience to motivate other victims to speak out and demand justice.
He said human rights cannot continue to be violated. “Racism in South Africa is like a disease, there is a huge struggle with racism it just doesn’t stop, so the sooner it is dealt with the better,” he said.
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