Durban - A Durban businessman has described in chilling detail how four men beat a former Royal Marine to death after the Sharks/Melbourne Rebels Super 15 rugby match at King’s Park Stadium on Saturday.
The man, who did not want to be named because he feared reprisals, said he and several other rugby fans could do nothing but watch as 29-year-old Brett Williams, a veteran of the Iraq and Afghanistan conflicts, was beaten to a pulp at the stadium’s outer fields.
“The main aggressor was a hulk of a man and his friends all looked like they were on steroids,” he told the Daily News. “Despite trying to stop them, we could not and they just pushed us away. Even the five security guards who were there could do nothing. These guys were highly aggressive.”
The businessman said he had seen Williams and the men argue earlier.
“I don’t know what was said, but the main instigator asked (Williams) what he had said, to which he replied, ‘nothing’. Brett moved away from them to where a lady was selling koeksisters and waited there, when all of a sudden these guys had surrounded him,” he said. “Brett defended himself by throwing the first punch but the big guy overpowered him easily and got him to the ground and began strangling him.”
He said Williams passed out.
“A short while later Brett came to and began to get up and that is when the entire pack attacked him, kicking him and punching him. One of the men even wanted to get a brick to hit him further when the crowd stopped him. They were ruthless.
“I have never in my whole life witnessed such brutality. They were like a pack of wild dogs. There is no better way to describe them.”
The businessman said he had been in touch with the detective investigating the death, and he would make a statement on Wednesday. He wanted to see the culprits arrested.
He said that after beating Williams, the men walked away.
“When I left, the paramedics had arrived and had put a drip on him and were trying to revive him. When I found out he died my stomach turned,” he said.
Williams sustained serious injuries to his head and was declared dead at the scene by paramedics.
His family, some of whom are based in South Africa, are demanding answers to what happened.
“He survived Afghanistan and Iraq only to be killed at a rugby match in Durban,” Steven Williams, his uncle, said on Tuesday. “We are all shocked by the incident.”
Brett Williams, who fought with the Royal Marines’ 40 Commando unit, was born in Johannesburg but moved to Liverpool as a boy.
In 2001 he joined the Royal Marines and left in February 2012 to join the lucrative maritime security industry, guarding precious cargo and deterring pirate attacks along the treacherous east coast of Africa.
According to Steven, who lives in Johannesburg, the cargo ship his nephew was protecting docked in Durban last week and Williams booked into a backpackers hostel.
“He was supposed to have come and visited me at the weekend, and on Saturday night we got a call from him at 8.06pm saying he was still coming to visit,” he said. “Two hours later he was killed.”
Williams’ other uncle, professional golfer Chris Williams, said the family in the UK were taking the incident very badly and were being assisted by the British Consulate in South Africa.
“It’s a real tragic situation,” he said. “We are all devastated.”
Chris said Williams would be remembered as an adventurous and brave person who loved being a soldier with 40 Commando.
According to the British Royal Navy, the unit was previously deployed to the Sangin region of Afghanistan’s Helmand province, as well as tasked with the amphibious Cougar deployments in the Mediterranean, “showing that the commando is an elite and flexible unit able to deploy anywhere in the world”.
“He had been to so many places with the marines,” Chris said.
“He was trained in jungle warfare, desert warfare and was accepted into the specialist boat squadron, but chose to stay with the marines. Recently, he re-enlisted with the marines and was just waiting to do the medicals before he returned.”
Sharks CEO Brian van Zyl said the fight occurred on the outer fields at about 10pm.
“We have conducted our own internal investigation and are satisfied that our contracted service providers, Fidelity Security and ER24, had done everything possible to assist in stopping the fight on the night,” he said in a statement.
“We pride ourselves on providing a world-class display in a safe and secure environment. The safety of our patrons is of paramount importance.
“This is a senseless isolated incident and the stadium will ensure that we do everything possible to avoid incidents like this occurring in the future.”
Van Zyl said the matter was being investigated by the police and that the Sharks would assist them wherever possible in carrying out their investigation.
“The SAPS are also receiving assistance from both our service providers, who were on the scene and assisted in stopping the fight, prior to the arrival of the SAPS.”
Police spokesman, Colonel Vincent Mdunge, said a crack team of detectives had been assigned to the case.
“From our initial investigation, there seems to have been an altercation between two groups of people that resulted in a fight where a man was assaulted with clenched fists and booted feet,” Mdunge said. “The English national died at the scene and a high-profile task team, appointed by the Durban Central cluster commander, has been set up to investigate the murder.”
No one has been arrested for the murder.
Investigators have taken statements from several witnesses and are said to be looking at CCTV footage in an attempt to identify the culprits.
“We are deep in the process of identifying the people involved and will be making arrests soon,” Mdunge said.