Ventersdorp petrol attendant is living a nightmare

13 April 2010 - 01:58 By SIPHO MASONDO

Though many of Ventersdorp's residents are celebrating the murder of AWB leader Eugene Terre Blanche, his death has plunged John Ndzima's life into further misery.

Ndzima is the petrol attendant who Terre Blanche attacked in 1996.

Terre Blanche was convicted of assault and sentenced to 12 months in jail in 2000. He served six months.

In 2001, he was sentenced to six years for assaulting one of his workers, Paul Motsabi, who was left permanently brain damaged. Ndzima was a key witness in that case.

Ndzima told The Times that members of the AWB had warned him repeatedly that, if anything happened to Terre Blanche, they would hold him personally responsible.

"I was at our annual Zionist Christian Church pilgrimage in Moria [in Limpopo] when I heard that Eugene Terre Blanche was dead. I received a call on Sunday morning and I thought it was a joke," he said.

"But I realised it was serious when others around me started receiving similar calls from many different people."

"Immediately I thought that I was the first suspect."

Ndzima returned to Tshing township, near Ventersdorp, on Easter Monday to find that his worst nightmare had come true.

He was told by colleagues at the petrol station that AWB members had been looking for him.

"My colleagues told me that AWB members had said that I or my relatives were involved in the murder," he said.

"I asked my boss to give me the week off and he did, but my family persuaded me to go to work and I was very scared.

"I was attending to one guy and he asked me if I knew where John was. I told him that he had gone to church in Moria.

"Then he asked me if I knew if John or his sons were involved in the murder."

Fearing for his life, Ndzima told his colleagues to tell anyone looking for him that he was not around.

Now, he says, he does not know how to respond to Terre Blanche's death.

"I'm caught between the AWB and my own people. If I say I am happy that he is dead, the AWB will come for me.

"And if I say he came back from prison a changed man, I will be in trouble with the [black] community," he said.

"A part of me wants to believe that Terre Blanche came out of prison a changed man because he was very different after his release. He used to come to this filling station to buy airtime.

"He never said anything. He came once and asked me to pump his tyres. I greeted him and he greeted me back.

But Ndzima still fears for his safety.

"I could be attacked at any time. I work at night and I don't have a car. AWB guys carry guns. Anything is possible here. Sometimes I see farmers talking about me, pointing at me."

"Everyone in this town knows me. At times, I would get a job but as soon as my employers discovered who I was they would dismiss me," he said.

He would like to leave Ventersdorp and find work elsewhere but is concerned for his wife and children.

"My family comes first and they are always worried about me.

"Since Terre Blanche died, they never sleep until I come home. Where will this end?"

The assault on him remains a vivid memory for Ndzima. Terre Blanche and a friend arrived on horseback, carrying shotguns, and beat him for telling the police that two white boys had broken into a pharmacy.

"I pleaded with him, saying I will change the statement at the police station.

"He said: 'Jy het al klaar kak gemaak en ek sal jou doodmaak' (You have already caused sh** and I will kill you)," Ndzima said.

"He hit my head against the wall of the toilet. He set his dogs on me. He really wanted to kill me."