A neighbour of a Limpopo woman who was assaulted by an ANC member has come forward to refute Ba-Phalaborwa mayor Pule Shayi’s claims that he did not know of the incident.

The neighbour, speaking on condition of anonymity due to fear of victimisation, told The Sunday Independent that the attack was unprovoked.

She said they were barred from opening a case by officers at the Namagale police station.

The woman disputed the version of events narrated by Edmond Mbetse, who is accused of the assault.

“I’m the one who took Matozi Choma to the hospital and I’m also the one who took her to the police station to open a case, but they refused,” she said.

Remembering the day of March 29, Choma said residents were woken up by people who were clearing the road and chanting at the intersection next to her house. They proceeded to the councillor’s house, she said.

“There was this other ANC woman in a car who couldn’t drive past because the road was blocked.

“Her passenger, a woman, got out to remove the rocks. She asked for directions.

“They drove away and then drove back. When I came out of my grandmother’s house, I saw that people had returned the rocks to the road.

“These people didn’t see who had done that. Nobody did,” she said.

This version contradicted what Mbetse said.

He claimed he never laid a hand on Choma. He, however, admitted to confronting her for allegedly putting rocks on the road after they had been removed.

He claimed that when they confronted her, she started insulting them. The neighbour refuted that version. She said while they were standing at the intersection, Mbetse told the large group that he knew who had put the rocks on the road.

“I heard Edmond telling the group they should go to Choma’s house because she was responsible for putting the rocks back on the road. People had gathered outside their yards to watch and Choma was one of the people standing outside.

“She went back home when she saw them.

“They removed the rocks again and then Edmond pointed out her house. The mayor was there and other people who work for the municipality. I saw them, they were there.

“That is when they entered Choma’s house along with the local councillor. As neighbours, we watched to see what was happening and then Edmond started slapping Choma. He struck her numerous times. They left and said they were going to a tavern to find three boys they also accused of putting rocks on the road,” she said.

She claimed Mbetse was not present when the alleged attack took place. According to her, he was only contacted at a later stage and informed of the apparent incident.

Choma said he was the one who called the family and said he would look into the matter and get back to them, but he never did.

The neighbour corroborated her version.

“No family called him, the mayor and the ANC supporters were scared because they heard Choma wanted to open a case.

“They told her the provincial leadership would come to her house to speak to her parents about the attack.

“He called Choma’s mother and said they would come to apologise for what happened and speak to the family. Other ANC members approached her and said she must not be misled by the EFF to open a case. She informed them that the EFF was only trying to help her open a case,” she said.

Choma’s attempt to get justice was dealt a further blow when the station commander of Namagale police station allegedly refused to open a case.

“When we got to the Namagale police station the officers said they couldn’t help us and we should speak to the station commander who would give them the authority to open the case.

“We spoke to him and he said a lot of things, adding he was tired of the political violence in the area.

“He wanted to convince Choma not to open a case against Edmond,” she said.

“He said we wouldn’t open a case because we were turning the police station into a political playground.

“We explained it was not about politics but the fact that Choma was assaulted,” she added. Police spokesperson Brigadier Motlalefela Mojapelo said the matter would have to be investigated internally to determine its authenticity.

He said police members cannot refuse to open a case laid by the complainant, regardless of the jurisdiction of the incident.

“In other words, the complainant may open a case at any police station in the Republic of South Africa and the police are obligated to assist such a complainant.

“It is not incumbent upon any police member to be judgemental as to the motive of any complaint.

“Assault is a criminal case and when reported, the police are compelled to register and investigate it with a view of bringing the perpetrator to justice,” he said.

The Sunday Independent