Times were bad in South Africa in the spring of 1922. Following World War I the economic depression was so acute that martial law was declared in March. Faced with rising costs and a fall in the price of gold, mining companies cut the wages of their black employees, which were already terribly low. When the economic downturn also affected the Boer population they staged a rebellion against the government.

The Boers decided to vent their spite on the restless black people and 24 blacks were murdered in a single week. A Boer, Carel Stassen, formed an illegal Boer Commando, rode into Sophiatown, and shot dead two black men, John Setsuta and John McKenzie. Witnesses testified that Stassen was in no danger and they described it as a cold-blooded racial murder.

The jury at his trial for double-murder thought so too, and he was hanged in Johannesburg Prison on Thursday, October 5th, 1922.