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Angry residents of Machado in Mpumalanga went on the rampage to vent their anger on recent racial attacks by members of Community Policing Forum (CPF) in the area. The incident was recorded live using a mobile phone and the subsequent video footage went viral after being posted on social media.  Following the incident, the residents of Machadodorp on Tuesday afternoon torched two heavy motor vehicles that they used to barricade both the entrance and exit to and from the eMthomjeni location next to the small town of Machadodorp were the incident occurred. A shop believed to be belonging to an Indian who allegedly telephoned the CPF members the perpetrators of the attack was also set alight on Tuesday morning.

The allegations are that Godfrey Masuku got into an argument that later led to his attack by a white male employed at the Indian shop. “He returned later with a pepper spray which he used to temporarily disorient and blind, whilst attempting to refind my center two white males approached me and pummeled me to the ground,” Godfrey said stating that he was lying helplessly on the ground as they continued to assault him.

According to an eye witness Nompumelelo Ndlovu, Godfrey’s employer, CPF members were called for assistance and the situation escalated to an attack on Godfrey upon the arrival of the CPF members. “They came and beat him up, fortunately I recorded the incident” said Nompumelelo. “Police were called but they just stood there and watched as the CPF members continued the attack. They [police] even threatened other community members who tried to intervene,” she said.

The 41-year-old Godfrey, father of two, sustained several facial and body wounds. He says he doesn’t know why he was attacked. “We usually greet each other every day, I don’t have a problem with him,” this he said referring to the shop keeper. Residents continued to state their concern with the Machadodorp community stating that Godfrey’s attack is not an isolated incident. There are several racial attacks in the area of which blacks are often the victims. “There is a lot of racism in this town. Black people are still treated like in the old apartheid era,” said a resident who requested to remain anonymous.

According to the police, Godfrey’s attackers, Bruce Botha (29) and Wayne Swart (20), were arrested on Tuesday and charged with assault with intent to cause grievous bodily harm and appeared at the Belfast Magistrate’s court. “They were remanded in custody and ordered to reappear at the same court on Friday, 14 September 2018, pending a formal bail application,” SAPS said in a statement.

MEC for community safety, security and liaison, Pat Ngomane said he does not believe that the people captured on the video belong to any CPF structure or a security company. “Most organized structures and credible security companies know how to deal with people including crime suspects,” his spokesperson Joseph Mabuza said in a statement. Mabuza said the MEC explained that the role of the members of the CPF is to assist the police in the fight against crime and also to assist in strengthening police and community relationship.

Mabuza further stated, “Ngomane has therefore ordered the police to conduct a thorough probe in order for the suspects to be speedily prosecuted, stating that such occurrences have the potential of flaring up unnecessary racial tensions and also inciting violence. He has also called on the community members who have witnessed the incident to come forward and assist the police to finalise the case urgently.”

“There should be no attack on one another on the basis of skin colour and hatred as encouraged by some people on social media. He says community members should strive to live together in peace irrespective of their differences. Joseph Mabuza has also appealed to the Department of Justice to ensure that once the wrong doers are convicted, they should give them a jail term as this would clearly demonstrate government’s zero tolerance towards vigilantism. Ngomane has also condemned the public violence that led to the burning of properties in the area. He asked the community members to restrain themselves and wait for authorities to intervene before thinking about taking the law into their own hands.