“I love running. Athletics is in my blood and I believe I am a serious athlete who will make South Africa proud.”
These were the words of the soft-spoken 5 000m athletics champion Thabang Mosiako.
The 22-year-old is a human resource development student at Boston City Campus in Potchefstroom.
Mosiako and two of his friends, Rantso Mokopane and Sandy Londt, were allegedly attacked and beaten outside Varsity Café during North West University’s Raising and Giving weekend last week.
The attack left Mosiako, who was to compete in an athletics event in Algeria in March, with severe head injuries and his future hanging in the balance.
Police spokesperson Adele Myburgh told News24 on Monday that they had established a task team and that the case of assault with intent to do grievous bodily harm was receiving attention.
Myburgh also commented that she was unaware of claims that Mosiako and his friends had been beaten up by police officers.
She added that no-one has been arrested.
When asked what he was hoping the police would do, Mosiako said: “I just want justice to be served. I really hope that will be able to go out and run again.”
Mokopane explained to News24 on Monday that a confrontation started inside a cafe that he went into when he intervened after three men had sworn at a cashier. During this time, Mosiako and Londt waited outside. “I intervened and asked one person to come to me. I told him: ‘He moena, what you are doing is wrong.'”
He said the cashier gave him a “sjambok” to scare them away, but he did not use it, because he did not want it to seem like he was fighting.
“When I went outside, the group had multiplied and there were about 10 rugby-bodied men. Suddenly, fists started to fly,” he said, noting that the attack was “racially motivated”.
Mokopane claimed that two white police officers arrived and broke up the fight and beat them with batons.
He said the men were swearing at them in Afrikaans. He said they left the scene and asked police to accompany them back to campus because they were scared. But they were ignored.
Mokopane said they were then ambushed by the same men near the Virgin Active gym. “We were beaten up by the men. One of the men bashed Mosiako’s head on the ground after the group of men started kicking him.”
Mokopane said he then ran to the main gate of the campus to ask for help, but was turned away.
“These guys were too many. I blacked out and woke up in hospital. I was filled with anger, but I told myself to keep calm and see what happens,” Mosiako explained.
He has three stitches to his head and would have to wait for the doctor to complete his evaluation. University spokesperson Louis Jacobs said his staff was alerted to the incident on social media last week Monday.
“The moment we picked it up, we immediately communicated it to management and to our protection services for them to be informed about it and for them to start liaising [with] the police.”
Jacobs added that protection services was constantly working with the police.
He said that internal processes would follow should university students be implicated in the alleged assault.
“They will be charged and the whole process will run from there. Any incident [and] any alleged racism or discrimination is strongly condemned [in] the strongest form.”
He said the university has its own human rights committee that serves as a platform to which incidents can be reported.
— News24 Wire