Racism must fall – resident
Role players in the events that preceded the outbreak of racial tension in the town of Machadodorp in Mpumalanga this week say there is more to the alleged assault that sparked the outrage, reports the Lowvelder.
A video of an alleged racial attack has spread like wildfire on social media since the incident took place on Monday.
It shows Godfrey Masuka being detained by Bruce Botha and Wayne Stuart from the local community policing forum (CPF). In the footage, Masuka is dragged onto the back of a bakkie.
All this took place in front of Mpumelelo Ndlovu’s restaurant, where Masuka is an employee.
An assault case against Botha and Stuart was opened. They were arrested and appeared in the Belfast Magistrate’s Court yesterday.
The community retaliated against the treatment of Masuka on Tuesday by looting and burning down a shop, blocking the road, as well as burning two trucks on the R36 towards Carolina. They threatened to burn down Machadodorp if “racism in this town” continues.
According to Ridwaan Ismail, owner of the shop that was torched, Masuka is not the victim.
Ismail said he had sold a house to Ndlovu and when she did not adhere to the rent agreement, he had her legally evicted.
According to Ismail, his employee Johan Morris was walking past Ndlovu’s restaurant on Monday when Ndlovu, Masuka and other community members started to verbally abuse him.
“The victim [Masuka] on the video then attacked Johan and he came to my shop for help. I pressed the panic button and the guy from the CPF phoned me. He said he would send some of his guys to the restaurant while I phoned the police,” Ismail said.
It was then that things turned sour. Ismail said when the police arrived, they only saw Botha and Stuart attacking Masuka.
Ndlovu said Morris joked that he wanted to have lunch with them and moments later, he and Masuka started fighting.
“He [Morris] sprayed Godfrey [Masuka] with pepper spray and then ran off. He was still recovering when the two others came and attacked him.”
Ismail claimed that the community, led by Ndlovu, attacked him at his house, shouting racist comments and threatening him and his family. “We had to leave Machadodorp.” He would not divulge where he had fled to.
In a statement, community safety, security and liaison MEC Pat Ngomane called for calm.
Kevin Pillay, national chairperson of CPFs, said on Tuesday in Mbombela that Botha and Stuart were not active CPF members.
Police’s Colonel Mtsholi Bhembe said they were pleading with the community to stop the protests. – Caxton News Service
Rubber bullet casings, bricks and angry residents filled the street outside the Belfast Magistrate’s Court in Mpumalanga yesterday, with residents threatening to burn the court after two security guards accused of beating a black man were granted bail of R500 each.
The bail verdict enraged members of the community, clad in EFF and ANC T-shirts. They had gathered outside court, waiting to hear if Bruce Botha, 29, and 20-year-old Wayne Swart would be released.
Security guards Botha and Swart made headlines early this week when a video surfaced, showing them manhandling Godfrey Masuka and dragging him by his arms into the back of a bakkie.
The two accused were apparently responding to a complaint about an alleged argument involving Masuka.
While Botha and Swart were arrested for assault with intent to do grievous bodily harm, unrest broke out in the small town of Belfast, with a shop looted and torched, roads barricaded, and the burning of two trucks in the week.
As soon as Magistrate Nomampondo Harmans made her ruling, rocks were pelted at the court building, with threats to burn it.
Police responded by firing rubber bullets to disperse the crowd but within minutes, the angry residents returned in numbers.
The few police officers appeared defeated when bakkies filled with EFF members arrived to join in the massive demonstration. A few fearless community members even walked up to the police to dance in front of them.
While some were seen picking up stones, behind the court building Swart, Botha, their lawyer and family members jumped into a bakkie and escaped the crowd.
EFF Nkangala region chair Poppy Moila, said: “How can two people who were attacking someone, racially at that, be given bail?
“We’re disappointed by this incident and it is heartbreaking to be dragged on the road, chained and beaten. Not only did these people beat that victim, they beat other people that tried to assist in the incident. That is very cruel.”
People from Machadadorp later blockaded the N4 highways outside the town, setting another truck alight.
The state did not oppose bail as Botha and Swart had no previous convictions nor pending cases, said Monica Nyuswa, spokesperson for the National Prosecuting Authority in Mpumalanga. The case was postponed to September 28.
PANDEMONIUM. Community members threatened to burn the court, barricaded roads and looted a store yesterday after security guards Bruce Botha and Wayne Stuart were given bail after allegedly beating up Godfrey Masuka during an arrest this week in Mpumalanga.
LUCKY ESCAPE. Bruce Botha, left, Wayne Stuart, centre, and members of the family waiting for a getaway bakkie at Belfast Magistrate’s Court.