Dali Mpofu stabbed
Top advocate and Marikana lawyer Dali Mpofu is being treated at an East London hospital after being assaulted on one of the city' s beaches yesterday.
Mpofu, who is representing injured miners at the Farlam commission of inquiry following a standoff between police and striking miners that claimed 43 lives in August, was stabbed and severely assaulted while visiting the Eastern Cape coastal city.
He was walking on the beach when he was attacked and robbed of his personal belongings between 3pm and 4pm, at a spot notorious for its high crime rate and attacks on beachgoers.
The motive for the assault was unclear last night. The reason for his visit to Eastern Cape is also not known at this stage.
"It is alleged he was approached by two assailants who robbed him of his personal belongings. He sustained stab wounds in the upper and lower body and was rushed to St Dominic's Hospital. Mpofu is in a serious but stable condition," said Eastern Cape police spokesman Marinda Mills last night.
The Times has established that Mpofu - who is from East London - had parked his car near a lifesavers' hut on the beachfront and had gone for a walk along the notorious stretch of beach between Eastern Beach and the Nahoon Reef.
Lifeguard Simpiwe Felani said Mpofu must have staggered about 500m along the beach westwards towards Eastern Beach's lifeguard shack, where he and fellow lifeguards - Mzameni Mafuna and Siseko Dyantyi - started applying first aid treatment and called for emergency support.
Felani said Mpofu was weak, woozy and bleeding - wearing only his underpants and a T-shirt.
He appeared to have two stab wounds to his chest, three to his back and one in his leg.
"He told us two guys came at him to mug him. But he fought back and that's when he got stabbed. He must have walked for a few minutes. He had lost a lot of blood. We applied first aid, using bandages to close the wounds and stop the bleeding.
"All the guys were helping. You could see he was weak and starting to get dizzy," Felani said.
In January last year, two Swedish tourists were robbed and raped at gunpoint in the same area. The two women were walking along the beach between the lifesaver's hut and Bats' Cave when they were accosted by knife-wielding men.
A signboard warns beachgoers and tourists to "beware" and that they have entered a "high-crime area".
A senior police officer involved in the case said Mpofu had said he had been accosted by two men who had jumped out of dense bushes on the beach.
"They took his jacket, cellphone, watch and car keys," said the officer.
The ANC last night condemned the assault on Mpofu, saying the "act of [thuggery] should not be tolerated as it undermines public safety and [is] a threat to lives".
Several politicians and members of Mpofu's family flocked to the hospital last night but police said Mpofu had asked that only his wife be allowed to see him because he was tired and needed to rest.
"He is shocked and still can't believe it, but he will be okay," said the officer.
Mills said detectives were investigating a case of assault with intent to do grievous bodily harm, and common robbery.
No arrests had been made.
Mpofu could not be reached for comment last night.
His nephew, Siliziwe Mphunga, who visited him in hospital last night, said his uncle was "calm" and "doing fine". When asked about his injuries, he said he was "stabbed everywhere".
Mphunga later said he was not allowed to answer any other questions but that the family would release a statement later today. - Additional reporting by Mike Loewe, Msindisi Fengu and Michelle Solomon