A South African court on Thursday denied bail to two white men charged with assault and kidnapping after a video showed them forcing a wailing black man into a coffin, an act the judge described as “brutal racism”.

The case has laid bare the racial tensions that endure over two decades after the end of apartheid rule in 1994, as well as the inequalities between black and white people.

A 20-second video circulating on social media showing Victor Mlotshwa cowering inside a coffin as one man pushes a lid on his head and the other threatening to set the casket alight has caused public outrage.

The two accused, Willem Oosthuizen and Theo Jackson, told the court that Mlotshwa was trespassing on their farm in Middelburg about 162 km east of Johannesburg and was in possession of stolen copper cables.

Magistrate Jongilizwe Dumehleli, though denied the accused bail, said public outrage would worsen if the applicants were freed on bail.

“When the court looked at the tragedy as it unfolded, it is clear that the assault was triggered by brutal racism,’’ he said.

However, the case was adjourned to Jan. 25.

Report says black people make up 80 per cent of South Africa’s 54 million population yet most of the economy remains in the hands of white people.

It noted that they accounted for about 8 per cent of the population.