JOHANNESBURG (AP) — A police captain in South Africa faces murder charges for allegedly helping four farmers beat two suspected thieves to death in a case that ignited racial tension in a rural town.
Capt. Hendrick Jacobus Prinsloo, who is white, was called to the scene of the beating in the town of Parys in the Free State province, police said in a statement Thursday. Instead of rescuing the two black men being beaten, he joined the white farmers in the assault.
Prinsloo, whose alleged involvement was reported by a witness, appeared in court and was released on $315 bail on Thursday. He and the four farmers, also out on bail, are due in court on Friday.
When the farmers appeared in court on suspicion of murder in January, police had to keep apart groups of white farmers and black protesters taunting each other outside the courthouse.
The two men who were beaten to death had a gun when they assaulted and tried to rob one of the white farmers on his property, according to the farmers.
The farmer managed to escape and the other farmers then came to his aid and searched for the attackers, according to the police statement. The farmers found the two suspected robbers about five miles (eight kilometers) away, where they were beaten and left for dead, police said.
Follow Christopher Torchia on Twitter at www.twitter.com/torchiachris
CHRISTOPHER TORCHIA, Associated Press
Copyright 2016 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.