Pretoria - A note threatening the rape of Tshwane’s deputy chief fire officer Refiloe Phantshang’s wife and daughters “at his funeral” has sent shock waves through the fire department and his family.
This was the second threatening note sent to Phantshang in four months.
The note was strapped to the beak of a dead hadeda found lying on the lawn of the Phantshang family home in Chantelle, Pretoria North, on Thursday.
It called the fire chief big-headed, told him he was a “piece of s***” and read: “Your wife… and two daughters will be raped on your funeral day.”
Phantshang said: “This is now a threat to my family and I am very, very afraid.”
He found the note just before 6am when he walked out of his front door to get his car out of the garage.
He immediately called his wife outside. Together they prepared their 13-year-old daughter, who was due to leave with her father for school, for the sight.
The chilling note and the dead bird come after another note – stuffed into the mouth of a dead dog and strapped to its lower lip - was discovered just inside their gate in April.
The family had been visiting Mahikeng that Easter weekend. A neighbour spotted the dog as he passed by and called Phantshang to tell him to return home as soon as he could.
“It was at around 6 o’clock that Monday morning when he called so we rushed back,” Phantshang said.
“The bleeding animal was lying on its side and had been tossed over the gate either late the night before or very early that morning,” he said.
A note was sticking out of its mouth. “When police arrived and opened the note, they found written: ‘Your death is planned.’
“My family has not yet recovered from the shock of that incident,” he said. Failure by the police to conduct a forensic investigation, or investigation of any kind, had not helped, Phantshang said.
He had suffered post-traumatic stress for weeks after the disturbing find, and had to be admitted to a psychiatric centre for three weeks. “I thought I had managed things well - being strong for my wife and children and braving the world after that fright, but clearly I hadn’t,” he said.
On Thursday, a group of firemen using the name “worriedfiremen” voiced concern over the incidents.
They blamed these “obvious death threats” on alleged corruption within the fire department.
The threats were an attempt to shut Phantshang up and to stop the outspoken fireman from fighting the “rot” he was encountering at work, his colleagues said.
“A case of intimidation was opened this morning, police spokesman Constable Maanda Singo said. The note had been sent for forensic tests,” Singo added.
A case of intimidation was opened when the dog was found in April, the police officer said, but that came to a dead end.
“But because of the apparent similarities in the cases we will try to find a link during our investigation,” Singo said.
On Thursday, Phantshang said he feared for the safety of his family and realised the urgent need to step up security at his home.
“I feel vulnerable, the whole family is so scared… We don’t know what could happen.”
He was making plans to increase security but was also hoping that once he reported for work today more means of protection would become available.
A spokesman, who did not want to be named as he was not authorised to speak on the matter, said the council was not aware of the latest death threats received by the deputy chief fire officer.
The council viewed the matter as private “although we condemn the act in the strongest possible terms”, the spokesman said.