A viral video of the incident now has them facing multiple charges.
Two white South African men were charged with assault and kidnapping Wednesday for trying to force a black man into a coffin.
A 20-second video that went viral in South Africa, shows Victor Rethabile inside a coffin as one man tries to push the lid on his head and the other threatens to put petrol and a snake inside the casket. The two men, Willem Oosthuizen and Theo Martins Jackson, apparently held him in custody for trespassing.
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"They were accusing me of trespassing. They beat me up and forced me into the coffin," Rethabile told reporter outside the courthouse though it is not clear how he escaped.
Both men will be held in custody until January 25 when the case continues.
"This humiliation can be based on nothing else but his blackness, which means it is in actual fact a humiliation of black people as a whole," the radical left-wing Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) party, said in a statement. They held a protest outside the courthouse.