From the archives: Isibaya actress’ husband almost burnt to death in his car

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Zinhle Mabena and hubby. (PHOTO: ZINHLE MABENA INSTAGRAM)
Zinhle Mabena and hubby. (PHOTO: ZINHLE MABENA INSTAGRAM)

Cape Town - Isibaya actress Zinhle Mabena and husband Robert Ngwenya are still in shock after the North West businessman almost got torched near Atteridgeville a week ago.

Robert tells DRUM he’d been driving home in a non-descript car after attending meetings in Madibeng in the North West when he noticed he was being followed by a black BMW and white Golf 7.

The MZ Ngwenya Foundation owner says he usually travels with an army of bodyguards but was tired of being surrounded by people, so decided to take off alone in his daughter’s car.

"All my cars are branded with my name. I thought using my daughter’s car wouldn’t draw too much attention to me," he says.

Robert noticed the two cars while waiting at a stop sign."I first saw the Golf had been tailing me and I kept a safe distance from it," he says.

"But when I was waiting at a stop sign, the BMW pulled up on my right and [someone] started shooting from the passenger window," he says.

Luckily they missed, but they broke his window. "I ducked down and tried to drive the car while down, but I lost control of the vehicle and rolled five times before landing in a ditch," he says.

Afraid to get out of the car in case the men shot at him again, Robert says he played dead as he heard the men approaching his car. "I saw they had a container of petrol that they poured into the car. They set it alight while I was still inside. But luckily a few cars stopped to help as they thought my car was burning because of the accident," he says.

The passers-by managed to pull Robert out of the broken window to safety.“I thought I was going to burn to death and I said my last prayer.”

Robert has opened a case at the Atteridgeville Police Station but says this isn’t the first time he’s almost been killed.

"Last year July, a similar incident happened in Brits, North West, but my case never went far. The three men who I’d seen with three other witnesses were released after three days," he says.

Robert suspects the attack is due to the work he does in the North West province. "My foundation is involved in dealing with complaints from community members."

If there are burst pipes, unfinished roads, corruption or concerns affecting community members that haven’t been dealt with – such as service delivery – we assist.

"I know for a fact that some people aren’t happy with our mission to curb corruption and they want me dead," he says.

He adds that this is affecting his wife and mom of his newborn son. "My wife is on maternity leave. She just gave birth to our son and truly doesn’t deserve all this stress," he says.

Not long ago he and Zinhle received threats on WhatsApp and Facebook, the businessman adds.

'They told me they know where she works. That she’s an actress and easily accessible and that they could hurt her and my kids anytime." Yet he won’t quit the work he’s doing for his community. "I’d rather die making a change than to quit what I do," he says.

Robert’s latest involvement with the community of Madibeng is at a rehabilitation centre and home for recovering nyaope addicts. "We currently have 50 young people who we’re helping with rehabilitation," he says.

After they’re clean he assists them in finding work in the mines and businesses around the neighbourhood.

Atteridgeville police spokesperson warrant officer Molife Seobe confirmed that Robert Ngwenya has opened the case and that the national head office has taken over the case.

"The investigation is almost complete. Robert needs to supply his medical documents to finalize the investigation. The head office has also collected all other cases that he has opened in the past to further the investigation and he will be receiving feedback very soon."

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