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Cape Town - A man beaten and tied between railway tracks in an apparent mob attack in Philippi has lived to tell the tale. His assailants told him he was merely in the wrong place at the wrong time.
On Wednesday, Gugulethu’s Xolela Jwambi, 23, relived how he and Mkhululi Mkhunyana were attacked by a mob that accused Mkhunyana of a robbery. He said Mkhunyana did not survive and was decapitated after being tied across tracks between Philippi and Nyanga railway stations ahead of an oncoming train.
“They placed his head on one side (of the track) and his legs on the other. I was tied in between the tracks. When the train was coming I thought it was the end. I was going to die. I was just lying there. There was nothing I could do to get out of the way,” he said from a hospital bed.
Jwambi’s right arm was severed below the elbow and he lost three fingers on his left hand. He also had facial and spinal injuries.
Police are investigating a case of murder and attempted murder.
Jwambi said he and Mkhunyana were at the Nyanga Junction Shopping Centre last Wednesday when they were forced into two bakkies by about 15 men. They were taken to a backyard at Sweet Home Farm informal settlement.
Mkhunyana was tied up and beaten with planks and rocks while a tied-up Jwambi looked on. He was soon made to join his friend, who by now was bloody from the beating.
“I asked them why we were being beaten but they didn’t answer; they continued hitting us. I told them they got the wrong person but they didn’t listen,” Jwambi said.
They eventually told him that Mkhunyana had robbed one of them of R6 000 and a cellphone and that Jwambi had found himself in the wrong place at the wrong time.
Jwambi said that while a few of the men continued the beating, others dug a grave and then put them in it. They were in the hole for about 10 minutes before being taken out. At one point the assailants doused the pair with paraffin and threatened to set them alight. They then dragged Jwambi and Mkhunyana to the railway tracks.
Jwambi said he didn’t know any of the attackers.
His mother, Nontuthuzelo Jwambi, said she received a call 30 minutes after he left home saying that he was tied to railways tracks and that he had been injured.
She admitted her son had been “a naughty boy”, but had changed his ways because he was always at home treating his tuberculosis.
“If the people had suspected that he has done something wrong, they should have reported him to the police instead,” she said.
Spokesman Andre Traut said police had yet to make any arrests.