ANC stalwart, 87, critical after vicious home attack
Intruders beat frail Nocwaka Lamani for cash, bank cards
An 87-year-old wheelchairbound former ANC MP is in a critical condition in hospital after she was badly beaten during a robbery at her New Brighton home.
Just 24 hours after the brutal attack on Nocwaka Lamani, Herald photographer Brian Witbooi and reporter Naziziphiwo Buso were robbed by three knife-wielding men just metres away from her home in Rula Street, which they had been heading towards.
Police spokesperson Captain Andre Beetge said Lamani had been attacked inside her house at midday on Tuesday, after her 49-year-old caregiver left to go to the shop.
The caregiver was gone for about 40 minutes.
“At least two men entered the house shortly after the caregiver left,” Beetge said.
“They found [Lamani] in the bedroom and threatened her, demanding money.”
Lamani was in bed at the time of the attack.
Beetge said the men had assaulted her severely, hitting her in the face and upper body.
“Her purse containing cash and bank cards was taken by the suspects before they fled.”
Asked how they had gained entry, Beetge said: “It is alleged that the security gate [on the front door] was closed, but not locked.”
According to police, while Lamani had only seen the two men in the bedroom, there were thought to have been more in the house.
“The caregiver returned at about 12.40pm and found [Lamani] crying and beaten.
“She was rushed to hospital by ambulance.”
Lamani was still in the St George’s Hospital intensive care unit on Wednesday due to the severity of her injuries.
Beetge said that as a result of her condition, detectives had not yet been able to take a statement from her.
Her family declined to comment, saying they were still too traumatised.
Lamani’s son, Xhanti, said the family needed some space.
When Witbooi and Buso parked in Rula Street at midday on Wednesday, a man walked up to their bakkie, and asked whether he knew Buso and if they were lost.
Witbooi said that, within seconds, two other men rushed up to the vehicle – one to the driver’s side where he was seated and the other to the passenger side where Buso was.
Buso said the men had opened the car’s doors, which were unlocked as they had been about to climb out, and demanded their phones.
Buso gave the door a hard shove, knocking over the man on her side, and jumped out.
“I jumped right over him and ran,” she said.
“I did not even know where I was going.”
Buso raced to a nearby house, where a woman provided her with a phone to call for help.
Meanwhile, Witbooi was fending off the knife-wielding thugs, one of whom tried to stab him.
“I just said ‘no bru, don’t stab me’,” a badly shaken Witbooi said.
The men stole Witbooi’s camera and equipment, phone and laptop before running off.
Witbooi then went searching for Buso and they, and a security guard sent from The Herald to help, eventually met up.
Eastern Cape ANC secretary Lulama Ngcukayitobi said the party strongly condemned the attack on Lamani.
“The attack on cadre Nocwaka Lamani, a veteran of our movement and a mother to many ANC cadres, is unbelievable,” he said.
He said it defied belief that people would attack elderly women, whom he described as “almost defenceless souls”.
“This act is so barbaric and senseless. It needs to be condemned in the strongest possible words,” Ngcukayitobi said.
“People should have appreciated and respected the 16 days of activism against violence on women.
“We wish her a speedy recovery and wish the police can investigate the circumstances of the attack.”
Motherwell cluster commander Major-General Dawie Rabie has ordered the specialist Serious Violent Crime Unit to take over the investigation.
"Crimes committed against the elderly should be seen as crimes committed against the whole community,” Rabie said.
He said the safety of the elderly should not just lie with caregivers and families, but with communities as a whole.
“We are still in the 16 Days of Activism of No Violence Against Women and Children, which also includes the safety and security of the elderly.
“We are calling on our communities to take care of the elderly and, where crimes are committed against them, to assist the police in identifying the culprits.”
Rabie urged anyone with information relating to the attack on Lamani to contact Captain Jerome Mackay, at 071-4752015.
‘The caregiver returned and found [Lamani] crying and beaten’ Andre Beetge