Mpumalanga reels in wake of murder, assaults apparently motivated by racism

Rebecca Masilela, mother of the late Doctor MasilelaPHOTO: Sizwe Yende
Rebecca Masilela, mother of the late Doctor MasilelaPHOTO: Sizwe Yende

Two alleged racism incidents have sent shock waves through Mpumalanga’s Delmas area, where white farmers allegedly shot and killed a black man.

In a separate incident six job-seeking women were assaulted by white males.

Mpumalanga police have their hands full investigating these combustible and sensitive cases, which have landed on the ears of EFF activists who are now championing them.

The shooting incident happened on June 17, when a group of farmers found three men – Doctor Masilela (30), Alfred Gumede (39) and Smanga Makhanya (26) – walking in Stompiesfontein farm around 7.30pm.

Makhanya managed to escape when they were rounded up, Gumede was drunk and endured an assault, but Masilela did not survive the attack.

His body was found on July 14, when a group of EFF activists filled up a 15-seater minibus taxi and approached Philip van der Walt, who owns Stompiesfontein farm.

EFF branch chairperson John Mahlangu heard about Masilela’s disappearance from the deceased’s neighbour, with whom they work at a local mine.

Masilela’s family and the activists found his badly damaged body in a government mortuary in Heidelberg, Gauteng, 55km from Delmas.

According to Mahlangu, Masilela had a “big hole” in the forehead.

It is alleged that the farmers bumped him with a bakkie when he tried to flee, shot him and then drove off with his body and threw it from a bridge above the busy N17 road in Heidelberg – to be crushed by traffic.

Van der Walt was not part of the group that allegedly took part in the heart-wrenching incident, hence he has not been charged.

According to Gumede and Makhanya, they were walking through the farm, coming from another one where they had been drinking when a bakkie, which had its lights off, suddenly appeared and beamed them.

While Makhanya’s nifty feet saved him, Gumede said he was too drunk to run and hid behind a structure.

The farmers caught Masilela first, and four more bakkies arrived as backup.

It appears that the farmers caught Masilela quite a distance from where Gumede was hiding and he is not aware of what happened there.

“After a while, one of the bakkies drove towards me. I stood up and raised my hands in the air to surrender. They shot at me but the bullet scraped me and I started bleeding,” Gumede said.

He said they started kicking him and asked where his friends were.

“My phone rang and they demanded it and one of them asked: ‘Wie is Karabo [Who is Karabo]?’

“I said that is my wife,” Gumede said.

He believes that he was saved by his knowledge of the names of white farm owners in the area.

“One of them said that I was telling the truth because I told them which farms I had worked in the area and who owns them,” he said.

After the interrogation and assault, Gumede said the farmers wiped blood from his face and drove him close to his home in Wolwefontein, an RDP settlement.

However, they refused to hand over his cellphone.

Farmers shed tears

Mahlangu said that when they went to Stompiesfontein they spoke to Van der Walt and his foreman, Dawie Lecordeur (54).

“They literally cried when we interrogated them, but we went there in peace and suggested that we must all go to conclude the matter in the police station,” Mahlangu said.

After they all went to the police, details about what happened a month earlier began to unfold and a black worker at Stompiesfontein, who overheard Lecordeur talking about the matter, also started talking.

Mpumalanga police spokesperson Brigadier Leonard Hlathi said that Lecordeur was charged with attempted murder and Gary Wiblin (36) faced a murder charge.

However, Hlathi said the charge against Lecordeur had been withdrawn, but declined to give details.

It is believed that Lecordeur had agreed to become a state witness. Wilbin applied for bail on Monday.

“A 68-year-old man was arrested in connection with this case on Thursday, and is due to appear in court on Monday, [August 5],” he said.

The bail application continues.

Masilela’s mother, Rebecca (53), said she had been frequenting the Delmas Police Station since her son disappeared.

“We are just happy that we found his body even though it did not look good at all. But I’m stressed and need to hear the whole truth. Whenever I see these boys [Gumede and Makhanya], this matter comes back to my mind,” she said.

Makhanya said that being sober that day saved his life.

“I saw it [the bakkie] just before they switched on their lights to beam us and I ran away.”

Imagining that he could also have died, he said: “Farmers in this area are bad … they are Boeremag.”


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