Theft suspect ‘almost beaten to death’

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IOL jan 28 crime tape mar 19 [5] [1] Independent Newspapers .

Johannesburg - A 29-year-old man is fighting for his life in ICU at Steve Biko Academic Hospital after what his family claim was a brutal attack at a Checkers outlet in Pretoria North.

Mpumelelo Dimba had been apprehended for theft, according to his family, who say he was beaten up on Friday and left for dead.

However, Checkers spokeswoman Sarita van Wyk has disputes this. She said a suspect had jumped from a second-floor window at the retailer’s Pretoria North store on Friday while an investigation in connection with theft from an ATM in the store was being conducted.

“The suspect was found in the store early on Friday morning when staff opened the store. Shortly thereafter, it was discovered that the ATM was broken into overnight and, upon viewing the CCTV footage, the suspect was identified as the perpetrator.”

Dimba’s family said he suffered a broken leg and a fractured neck as a result of the alleged attack.

His face is badly bruised and his head is swollen. He had to undergo brain surgery.

Dimba was brought to hospital at about 1pm by unknown people who said they had found him unconscious after the attack, according to his brother Thulani. He had also suffered a collapsed lung.

Van Wyk said on Tuesday the police were investigating the matter. Thulani said Checkers management was trying to cover up. He said the management had not been forthcoming with information.

The family was told that Dimba had been apprehended for theft and placed in handcuffs. He then threw himself out of the window.

“We don’t believe that. We think he was thrown out of the window during the attack. Nothing makes sense. The injuries do not indicate that he threw himself out of the window.

“Even if he had stolen from them, you don’t take the law into your own hands. Nothing justifies a person being attacked so brutally,” said Thulani.

“He could not tell us anything because he is still unconscious. We have to wait for him to regain consciousness. His injuries are bad. We were extremely shocked when we saw him. I think we almost lost him. He was lucky that someone managed to get him into hospital on time,” the brother said.

Thulani said a few witnesses had come forward, claiming they had heard screams

during the incident at Checkers.

Thulani’s sister-in-law Lydia Duma said she was furious. A theft needed to be reported to the police.

“I want to try to get to the bottom of this. Now they are claiming he threw himself out of the window, but on Saturday there was a blood trail on the staircase at the shop, which shows somebody had been beaten up.

“They must tell us what happened and not try to cover up. If they are not hiding anything, why are they refusing to show us the CCTV footage?”

Dimba is to undergo another operation soon.

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