'Attacked for being black': Lawyer badly beaten at Hartbeespoort Dam resort

23 August 2018 - 09:33 By Naledi Shange
Hartley Sandy Ngoato posted a picture of his injuries after what he calls a racist attack at Hartbeespoort Dam.
Hartley Sandy Ngoato posted a picture of his injuries after what he calls a racist attack at Hartbeespoort Dam.
Image: Hartley Sandy Ngoato via Facebook

Chairperson of the National Arts Council and lawyer Hartley Sandy Ngoato has been severely injured in what his family says was a racial attack.

A statement released by his family on Wednesday morning said Ngoato had been attacked on Sunday at the Schoemansville Oewer Klub Resort at Hartbeespoort Dam in the North West.

The police confirmed the incident and said a man had been arrested.

The family quoted Thembelani Mpakati‚ a colleague and friend of Ngoato’s who was reportedly with him at the time of the attack.

“Ngoato was physically and verbally attacked by a mob of white men… as he (Ngoato) was reversing his bakkie to hook his boat‚ which he had taken out on to the dam with a group of friends‚” the family said.

Mpakati was quoted as saying: “After an afternoon well spent cruising around the dam‚ we returned to the Schoemansville Oewer Klub‚ where Mr Ngoato had launched the boat earlier. I jumped off the boat with Mr Ngoato to go and assist him to reverse his bakkie‚ which had a boat trailer hooked at the back. As Mr Ngoato was reversing‚ a white man‚ who had spent the afternoon picnicking at the Oewer Klub‚ approached the driver’s side of Mr Ngoato’s bakkie and banged on the door.

“Unable to open the window as it had an electric fault‚ Mr Ngoato opened the door to enquire what the problem was. Before Mr Ngoato could even speak‚ [the man] started shouting at him and asked Mr Ngoato what he thought he was doing. From what I could hear‚ [the man] was accusing Mr Ngoato of speeding‚ something which was highly impossible taking into consideration the limited space available to speed from where Mr Ngoato had parked his bakkie and where his boat would be hooked.”

Mpakati said racial remarks were hurled at his colleague. “[The man] clearly and loudly kept shouting ‘f**k these blacks!! They must go away.’ In no time‚ three or four other burly white men had approached Mr Ngoato’s bakkie and were encouraging [the attacker] on. The entire situation was very heated and soon became aggressive. Mr Ngoato kept asking them what exactly he had done wrong to rile them up so aggressively‚ but none of the men gave him a coherent answer‚” he said.

Mpakati said the altercation soon turned physical‚ with Ngoato being pushed to the ground and assaulted. “[The attacker] continuously smashed Mr Ngoato’s head against the concrete ground. None of the other white men did anything to stop [him] at that time. Instead‚ they allowed the physical attack to continue and blocked me from going to assist Mr Ngoato.

“Mr Ngoato eventually managed to stand up and reached into his bakkie. He brought out a spanner and threatened to attack them in self-defence‚ and it was only then that [the attacker] and his crew drew back‚” said Mpakati.

Images of an injured Ngoato‚ posted by him on social media‚ have gone viral. They show an open wound to his head. The statement from his family said he had also sustained scarring to his left leg‚ swelling to his right hand and bruising to his face.

In the post‚ Ngoato wrote: “Attacked by whites in Hartbeespoortdam for been (sic) black at the Ouwers club. The same place SABC Carte Blanche interviewed me for the betterment of the dam. Now few months later‚ I am denied to enjoy the same dam by whites who are opposed to black guy to occupy a piece of land that belongs to government.”

“Mpakati further reported that even after the police had arrived on the scene‚ Ngoato’s assailants refused to be driven to the police station by black police officers. When the black policemen arrived‚ the mob of white people gathered there could be heard saying that they will be calling the white police station commander on his cellphone. It has since come to our attention that [the attacker] was moved from a normal holding cell to a more ‘comfortable’ one‚” the family said.

Lieutenant-Colonel Amanda Funani confirmed that a case had been opened with the police.

“A suspect was arrested on Sunday and charged with assault with intent to cause grievous bodily harm‚” Funani said.

She told TimesLIVE that police did not give the suspect any special treatment‚ saying he had not been immediately put in a police cell because he required medical attention.

“He was taken to hospital‚ treated and then put in a cell. He then appeared in court on Monday and was granted bail‚” Funani said. TimesLIVE could not reach the resort for comment.