‘Employers’ set Zim man alight

2008-09-16 00:00

A traumatised young Zimbabwean mechanic is recovering in hospital after he was doused with thinners and set alight last week, allegedly by his two employers, who accused him of stealing diesel and spares from their Willowton-based business.

The man, who declined to be identified, is suffering severe burns over 60% of his body. Only his face remains largely untouched by the flames.

Police spokesman Senior Superintendant Henry Budhram confirmed yesterday that a case of attempted murder has been opened against the employers.

The 23-year-old victim, who had been working for the two business owners since last year, told The Witness that his ordeal began last Monday evening when his employers accused him of theft.

In an attempt to extract a confession, the men allegedly threatened the Zimbabwean with a gun, firing a bullet at him, which narrowly missed his head. They then allegedly proceeded to beat him, saying to one of the victim’s two Zimbabwean colleagues who witnessed the events: “Here’s one of your brothers; we’re going to kill him today”.

The victim claimed the two employers then told the two other Zimbabwean employees to tie his hands and legs, take off his trousers and torture him with a candle against his private parts.

After allegedly arguing over whether he should be shot or burnt, one of the employers allegedly poured a bottle of flammable thinners over the mechanic and set him alight, announcing it was the man’s “last day”.

While on fire, the mechanic said he managed to unstrap his legs and flee to a shower near the workshop where he doused the flames.

The injured man said he was then dropped off at a private clinic by one of his employers after being told not “to make a big story” of the incident. Funding for the private care dried up quickly, however, and the patient was transferred the next day to a state hospital.

Reverend Ingrid Anderson of the Pietermaritzburg anti-xenophobic coalition, co-ordinated by Pacsa, said: “The perpetrators should be prosecuted to the full extent of the law”.

Budhram said the case is under investigation, statements are being taken from witnesses and arrests are imminent.

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