‘Vigilantes hammered nails into my feet’

2011-03-19 18:40

Walter Selala was allegedly kidnapped, hit with iron bars and had nails driven into his feet by members of the vigilante group, Mapogo a Mathamaga.

He lay in a coma in hospital for several days following the incident.

He was allegedly picked up ­after midnight by a group of armed men on suspicion that he and his friend, Thapelo Bogopa, had robbed local businessman and Mapogo member Patric Ntake of liquor and an undisclosed amount of money.

The assault has raised fears that the group, which unleashed a reign of terror on suspected criminals in Limpopo in the late 1990s, has resumed its activities.

The incident happened at Mamone village near Jane Furse in Sekhukhune, about 140km south-east of Polokwane, in January.

Selala said the men were in the company of Ntake and his son, Eric – an allegation denied by Mapogo spokesperson ­Mabune Puane.

However, he confirmed Ntake was a long-time member of the vigilante group.

Selala worked for Ntake as a tractor driver between 2003 and 2008 before he was fired for allegedly damaging a tractor.

The 30-year-old married ­father of one said he received a call from Bogopa late at night asking for help.

When he looked through the window, armed men ordered him to open the door. When he resisted, Eric allegedly threatened him with a gun.

He was forced into a car at gunpoint, tied up and driven to the bush, where he and Bogopa were beaten with an assortment of weapons.

“They hit me with iron bars and forced several nails into both my feet using hammers.

They then cut one of my toes with a pair of scissors. When I screamed and asked why, they did not respond,” Selala said.

He said Bogopa died at the scene and his body was loaded into a car and dumped next to a road in Schoonoord.
Selala lost consciousness and woke up in Jane Furse Hospital.

Police spokesperson Constable Moses Molepo said four suspects linked to Mapogo – Patric Ntake (54), Eric Ntake (34), Calvin Magopa (38) and Phillemon Bogopa (56) – had been charged with murder and attempted murder in connection with the case.

He added that Phillemon was Thapelo’s father.

“We have a strong case against the suspects. Vigilantism cannot be tolerated.

“It does not matter whether it is Mapogo or any other group,” Molepo said.

Limpopo provincial police spokesperson Colonel Motlafela Mojapelo said the police were concerned about the re-emergence of the crime-fighting ­tactics used by Mapogo in Sekhukhune in the past.

“Obviously that area was ­notorious in terms of how Mapogo a Mathamaga used to operate, so any incident that has the hallmarks of Mapogo a Mathamaga should raise a level of concern with us,” he said.

Until recently the group ­appeared to have either gone underground or abandoned its activities following a police crackdown that saw its leaders, including founder Monhle ­Magolego, hauled before the courts on a string of murder and assault charges.

Molepo said the suspects had appeared twice before the Nebo Magistrates’ Court this year and would appear again on April 1. They are out on bail of R1 000 each.

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