Thabang Mosiako claimed gold at the FNB Joburg 10K race in September. Photo: Tobias Ginsberg

JOHANNESBURG – South African 5000 metre champion Thabang Mosiako has suffered a head injury after being attacked in an apparent racial incident in Potchefstroom in the North West last week, according to media reports.

According to a Potchefstroom Herald report on Friday, it was a racially-motivated attack in which Mosiako was kicked and his head bashed into the ground by a group of as many as 10 white North West University (NWU) students on February 4. Mosiako, 22, woke up in Potchefstroom Hospital later in the day. Mosiako was with friends Rantso Mokopane and Sandy Londt who also reportedly suffered minor injuries in the attack. Mokopane, 23, is the reigning SA 3000 metre steeplechase champion and took to Facebook to describe the incident.

“Fourth time being attacked in and around the NWU campus and this time around my training partner severely injured and resulting in a head trauma which may lead to life-long seizures. I always refrain from racial issues, but on all those four attacks it has always been white men engulfing and injuring non-whites without cause... it saddens me that even police and protection services fail to protect where needed…#Cry_Our_ Beloved_Country.” (sic)

Mokopane said the incident began at a News Cafe in Potchefstroom when the students started swearing at a cashier. “I intervened and asked them to stop swearing at the lady,” he told the Potchefstroom Herald.

“When I went outside, the group had multiplied and there were about 10 rugby-bodied men who started attacking us. The police came and stopped the fight but  the police targeted us and started beating us with batons as if we were the ones who were in the wrong. We felt discriminated against.

“We fled the scene and on the way we saw another police van and humbly asked the officers to escort us to the campus because we knew our attackers would come back. The officers refused. After a few moments, near Virgin Active, the attackers, who were hiding nearby, ambushed us.

“There were a lot of them and we did not stand a chance. The two of us fled and the attackers all started kicking Mosiako on the head and body while he was on the ground. I saw one taking his head and repeatedly bashing it against the ground. When they saw the police were coming, they fled, leaving the unconscious athlete on the ground. He was transported to the hospital,” said Mokopane. 

Mosiako in January claimed victory in the Athletics SA Cross Country Trials in Manguang. In September, Mosiako beat highly accomplished SA marathoner Stephen Mokoka for the FNB Joburg 10km title in Johannesburg.

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