PRETORIA, June 28 – “I was beaten in the head with a metal bar the moment I peeped my head out of my shack. The next blow knocked two of my teeth out.” Abester Muzhambi is recounting his ordeal at the hands of a baying mob in Salvokop near the Pretoria CBD last week.
Muzhambi was one of the two men brutally set upon during a frenzied mob justice attack. To this day he is still not sure why he and the other man were singled out by the community. “I kept asking what my crime was but no one gave me an answer,” he tells the African News Agency . “Even now, I still wonder what they almost killed me for.”
A frail Muzhambi was found lying this weekend in a bushy area after he had last been seen during the mob attack on Wednesday last week. His siblings and other community members had been frantically searching for him in hospitals, mortuaries and police stations in and around Pretoria.
When he was eventually found, battered and bleeding in the veld, paramedics were called and rushed him to hospital in a critical condition.
“They [the vigilante mob] banged on my shack at around 3am and I inquired what was wrong. From the moment I asked, they showed their agitation and demanded that I should come out or they would burn the shack while I was inside. I was beaten from the moment my head peeped from the shack, and for several hours which followed.
“I kept asking what my crime was but no one gave me an answer. Even now, I still wonder what they almost killed me for,” said Muzhambi who has sought refuge at a relative’s place in Johannesburg.
Muzhambi was tied up and continually battered and forced to watch as his shack, which contained his scant possessions, was razed to the ground.
“Members of the mob argued amongst themselves. Some said let us throw him into the fire, while others said let us keep him but thoroughly beat him. I kept begging for my life, and finally they decided to take me away into the streets, parading me like a slave,” he said.
“The mob went past another shack and seized a certain young man [Xolani Ndlovu] whom I had never seen before. As they were beating me, I was shocked to see some of the aggressors licking the blood dripping off my chest. I still haven’t figured out why, but it gives me sleepless nights. I was drenched in blood, and I momentarily lost my sight and hearing. At some point they were holding my legs, dragging me on the sidewalks. I thought they were about to kill me.”
Muzhambi said after hours of beating, the mob dumped him into a bushy area. He later managed to crawl deeper into the bushes, hiding in the area for days before finally being discovered and taken to hospital. Some parts of his battered body had turned septic.
“I want to set the record straight. No police officer took me to hospital, and from Wednesday to Saturday, I remained in the bushes, fearing for my life day and night. One would expect that police would make an effort to at least locate all victims of the vigilante attack but that never happened. If I was going to die, I would have died from the massive bleeding while I hid in the bushes.”
ANA last week spoke to Ndlovu, who had several stitches in his face and head, and who said he was taken to hospital in a police van, but did not know what happened to Muzhambi after the mob attack.
Ndlovu had not opened a case at the police station as he was still heavily swollen and barely able to walk.
The South African Police Service in Pretoria central insisted that “two victims” were taken to a government hospital after the mob attack but that no cases had been opened.
“On the day police attended a complaint of assault, on arrival it was mob justice. They managed to rescue one victim who was assaulted by the community. Then the police were taken where the second victim was. He was found inside a shack badly assaulted,” said Captain Augustinah Selepe.
“Both victims, together with one of the family members were taken by police to Tshwane District Hospital. They were left at the emergency services. Police advised them that they can open a case of the alleged incident. On our system we don’t have any case opened by the victims.
“We checked our system and no complaint was received from the two victims. As indicated, the victims were advised to open a case when they were taken to Tshwane District Hospital. They indicated to police they will come to the station and report the matter,” she said.
No arrests have been made in relation to the attacks.
– African News Agency (ANA)