Pretoria - After a chance encounter with a man he had initially thought was a Good Samaritan, blind man Lucas Mametja discovered that his favourite musical instrument had been stolen.
Mametja, from Ga-Rankuwa, was born partially blind but lost his sight wholly in his 30s.
He has been playing the concertina – a musical instrument resembling the accordion – for more than 20 years.
The 55-year-old man said he was at Church Square walking to a bus stop in Bloed Street about 5.30pm, holding his backpack which contained the concertina, when a man speaking Xhosa struck up a conversation with him.
“He was a friendly chap and I liked him,” Mametja said.
The stranger told Mametja that he was going in the same direction and proposed that they walk together, even offering to buy him a cooldrink.
The man proposed that they rest on the pavement outside a shop while they sat drinking their refreshments.
They sat for about 15 minutes talking, with Mametja’s backpack nearby.
“We shared jokes about soccer and women,” Mametja told the Pretoria News.
“And since I was early for the bus, there was no problem sitting around.”
Minutes later the stranger said he wanted to buy something else from the shop and would be back, but he never returned.
Mametja then discovered that his backpack had been exchanged for another bag which was smaller and made out of different fabric.
The new bag contained what he later identified as nappies.
Mametja learnt from the cashier in the shop that the man had left with his bag.
In another incident in August, Mametja was randomly attacked with barbed wire while sitting outside FNB on Helen Joseph Street, playing music.
A mob chased the attacker to Church Square, beating him.
Both Mametja and the man were treated at the Steve Biko Academic Hospital after police were called to the scene.
Mametja, who wakes at 6.30am every day to head for the city centre where he has played and sung songs for money for nearly 20 years, said this was not the first concertina to be stolen from him.
The first one was seized from him in 1990 in Kempton Park.
“I parted with my best friend that has helped me make money all these years.”
He said that he bought the concertina for R1 400 in 1998.
“He has always greeted me and never bothered anyone,” said waiter Jeffrey Motlhoki from the Wimpy on Madiba Street, next to where Mametja usually plays his instrument.
Motlhoki said he had walked Mametja to Church Square on a few occasions.
To help Mametja buy another concertina, call 082 5159 753.