‘I was a punching bag’

2013-04-21 14:00

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All Esther Mankge wanted was to buy clothes for a special occasion.

Now she and her children are receiving trauma counselling and trying to forget about what happened in the back room of a Limpopo clothing store in October last year.

Mankge (49), a mother of four, was attacked by a group of security guards and her ordeal was caught on a cellphone camera.

This week, the Daily Sun published stills from that video, and South Africa erupted in outrage.

The footage showed that a few minutes after Mankge entered CB Clothing store in Jane Furse, things went pear-shaped when a female employee shouted at her, accusing her of stealing panties.

In no time, two security guards were on the scene. They subdued and pinned her down. And so began the abhorrent and ghastly ordeal, which culminated in Mankge’s video going viral online, eliciting massive international opprobrium.

Speaking to City Press at her home in Ga-Moloi outside Jane Furse this week, Mankge said she felt like she had lost her will to live when the store’s security guards and employees were beating her up.

“This woman shouted at me, saying I had stolen panties.

She came to me and delivered a blowing fist (sic), which sent me sprawling on the floor.

“The others came and they beat me and assaulted me all the more,” added Mankge.

“They then dragged me into a staff room and continued, as if I was a punching bag to a group of boys practising for a boxing match.

“Two men pulled my feet apart, dragging me to and fro. They beat me up, touched my private parts and groped me all over.

“I cried until I lost all energy, asking them to call the cops.”

All the while, employees were filming on their cellphones.


When they finished, Mankge said, one of the guards reached out for her other parcels, which she had brought with her into the shop, and accused her of having stolen everything.

“I had a plastic bag from Pick n Pay and another one with clothes I had bought from some Indian shop.

“They took me to Pick n Pay, where they told the security there that I had stolen there, but fortunately the guys there didn’t entertain them.

“From there they went with me to the Indian shop and did the same.

“They told the owner I had stolen and that I should pay again,” she said, adding that she had to pay another R160 for a blouse and a skirt she had already paid for.

Eventually, they let her go and, when she got home, she says she called her mother and told her what had happened.

“She told me not to tell anyone about it. I then cried and cried until I slept.”

Trying to hold back tears, Mankge said “the video hurts me so much. It disturbs my peace and soul. I wish I could do something to make it disappear”.

Family spokesperson Samuel Boshielo said the family has now opened a case at the Jane Furse police station and four people have been arrested in connection with the case.

He requested that the media stop showing the video.

“It traumatises my kids and my family. All we want now is to see justice happen.”

CB Clothing’s marketing manager, Val Ives, said the incident was “absolutely terrible and horrifying”.

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