Durban - A terrified rugby fan was punched to the ground in front of shocked Kings Park spectators minutes after last Saturday’s Sharks versus Reds Super Rugby clash.
The man begged for mercy and shouted at his assailant, asking him why he was beating him.
Minutes later, the victim was “out cold” on the ground, blood pouring from his injuries.
Although the injured, bloodied victim had to be stretchered into an ER24 ambulance stationed at the stadium and taken to Addington Hospital, there was a hushed silence from stadium officials, who appeared to downplay the incident when asked for a response.
A witness said she was “absolutely shattered” by the attack, which took place on one of the stadium’s access ramps.
The woman, who asked not to be named, described the aggressor as a large, muscular man.
“It was a horrific sight to see this person kicking and punching another man,” she said. “He was going ballistic, and the other man was not fighting back. The aggressor’s companion tried to intervene, but she was shoved away.”
The witness said she was appalled by the ferocity of the attack and was willing to testify about it.
“I was thankful my children were not there to witness such a terrible incident.”
The witness, a regular rugby supporter, said that, while the beating was going on between levels three and four, other spectators walking down the ramp seemed too scared to intervene.
“Fearing that the man, aged about 30, could lose his life, some of us tried to locate security, but there was no one around. By the time an official had got there, the man had disappeared.”
These sorts of serious and violent encounters could put people off coming to these games, she said.
“My question is: Where was security when this was happening? The victim could have been killed.”
An employee of Fidelity Security, the company that provides security for Kings Park, said they knew of the attack.
“The perpetrator was arrested and handed to the SAPS, and the victim taken to hospital,” said the official, who requested anonymity.
ER24’s media communications officer, Luyanda Majija, confirmed that a Sharks fan was assaulted just after the match.
“The assault occurred along one of the ramps of the stadium. He sustained serious injuries to his face and was taken to Addington Hospital.”
In another assault incident that night, police said Rawoo Sewlall, 48, was assaulted at the stadium.
The police named the assailant as 33-year-old Donovan Smith.
Police spokesman, Captain Thulani Zwane, said that Smith was arrested and appeared in the Durban Magistrate’s Court on March 17 after allegedly hitting Sewlall on the head.
Sharks chief executive John Smit said: “I am disappointed to learn about these incidents. It is a massive blow to our efforts to create a safe family environment.
“It has been my endeavour that such incidents never happen.”
Rugby at Kings Park has long been established as an institution for wholesome family entertainment, but that image took a beating when former Royal Marine, Brett Williams, was killed during a brawl after the Sharks-Rebels match last year.