Drag racer dies after mob attack

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Copy of ST main dragRace deaths (42053551)

THE STAR

A photo of Nolwazi Mnune, left, and Azavela Sithebe, both aged 4. The cousins were killed after they were knocked down by a drag racer. Photo: Antoine de Ras

Johannesburg - Sibusiso Mbatha saw the broken bodies lying strewn on the ground and lost it completely.

He got out of his mangled vehicle and tried to flee.

However, the John Dube, Duduza, community in Ekurhuleni had witnessed the drag race and the accident.

Some residents stopped and attacked him.

By the time police officers rescued Mbatha from the raging mob and bundled him into their vehicle, his life was hanging by a thread.

On the dusty road nearby, the tiny bodies of cousins Nolwazi Mnune and Azavela Sithebe, both 4 years old, lay on the ground, lifeless. They had grown up together in the same house.

The toddlers’ families said Mbatha and his friend were racing illegally on the road, driving parallel to each other, in the township on Saturday afternoon.

A car is believed to have approached from the opposite direction, and Mbatha, in an attempt to avoid a head-on collision, allegedly drove off the road and onto a patch of ground and almost wiped out an entire family.

He allegedly first hit Nolwazi and Azavela, who were playing.

The boys died instantly.

Azavela’s mother, Mapaseka Mokoena, was carrying her 2-year-old boy, Siyambonga, next to where Nolwazi and Azavela had been playing.

She was with her cousin, Phindile Dlamini.

The two were talking to Poko Mngomezulu, who had buried her girlfriend that day.

Mapaseka and Phindile had attended the funeral.

The children’s uncle, Nicholas Dlamini, said Mbatha then hit Poko, Mapaseka, Siyambonga and Phindile after hitting the children.

“He tried to turn the car (after hitting them), but it rolled several times and landed on its wheels.”

It was then that Mbatha got out of the car and tried to flee, but enraged residents apprehended him.

“They put him inside the car. They wanted to burn him inside. They siphoned petrol out of his tank and poured it on the car, but he managed to get out,” Dlamini said. “They beat him up and later burnt the car. Police officers later arrived at the scene and rescued him. They put him in the car and rushed straight to the police station, where they later called an ambulance. He was taken to the hospital and died on Sunday.”

The other driver allegedly fled from the scene.

Dlamini said he later met the driver of the second vehicle at the hospital. The man had gone there to check his friend.

“He did not know who I was and started saying he was driving in front of his friend, and when he looked in the rear-view mirror, he saw a cloud of dust and bodies flying in the air and saw people attacking him, that’s why he fled.”

Police are investigating a culpable homicide case regarding the children’s deaths and one of murder regarding Mbatha’s death.

No one had been arrested.

Mokoena and her son were still in hospital, while Poko, who had lost her newborn baby two weeks ago, was believed to be in the intensive care unit.

botho.molosankwe@inl.co.za

The Star


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