UFS race attack case in courtComment on this story
Bloemfontein - Two students accused of assaulting a fellow student on the University of the Free State's Bloemfontein campus pleaded not guilty in the local regional court on Monday to all charges against them.
Cobus Muller faces four charges, including reckless driving, crimen injuria, attempted murder, and assault, while Charl Blom faces a charge of assault.
The State alleges the two students tried to run over fellow student Muzi Gwebu with their bakkie on the campus in February this year.
When Gwebu confronted the two moments afterwards, he was allegedly assaulted.
Johann Nel, for Muller and Blom, submitted that Muller denied all the allegations against him and the two, in terms of the assault charge, had only tried to protect themselves against an aggressive Gwebu.
Prosecutor Adam Mohlala called the complainant, a fifth-year student living off campus, as the State's first witness.
Gwebu told the court that at about 10pm on February 17 he was walking to a hostel on campus when he heard a vehicle speeding in his direction.
He tried to get out of the way as the vehicle seemed to have left the road onto the pavement where he was walking, but it struck him against the leg and he fell down.
Gwebu, speaking through an interpreter, said he could hear the two men in the vehicle speaking loudly in Afrikaans while approaching him.
He could not understand the Afrikaans language, except for one word, “k*****r”.
Mwebu told the court he could see through the bakkie's windscreen that it was the driver talking.
The two men reversed after hitting him and pulled away at speed.
Mwebu said he heard them laughing at the time.
He testified he had followed the vehicle to speak to the driver, “to ask him why he hit me and if he had not seen me”.
Mwebu said the passenger, Blom, got out and walked around the vehicle and held his arms and hands behind his back.
He testified that Muller then got out and hit him with his fists and head in the face.
The court heard that Mwebu managed to free himself and run into the nearby hostel, Armentum, where he found more “white people”.
Mwebu said he wanted to seek help but found only white people walking past.
“I stood there hoping to see a black person but there was none.”
He then went to a rubbish bin and found a glass bottle, which he broke off at the bottom to use as a weapon to defend himself.
When Mohlala asked why he did that, Mwebu said he felt vulnerable and he realised he was “under attack”.
He left the hostel when residents began to ask him what had happened.
“I gave no attention to them,” he told the court, adding that he ran to the hostel next door, Villa Bravado.
Mwebu testified that afterward at the hospital he realised he had several injuries.
He told the court he was sure that his head injury was due to the vehicle incident and not from the assault.
Mwebu also testified that he had suffered from amnesia from time to time since the accident.
“I would forget my bookcase at the computer centre.”
The court adjourned for an inspection in loco at the UFS campus on Monday afternoon.
The matter was postponed to Tuesday.