A security guard, Thabure Petlane, on Thursday told the High Court how he witnessed four men allegedly fatally assault Tumisang Thejane with “sticks and beer bottles” during Bantu Football Club’s celebrations in Mafeteng seven years ago.
The accused, who have since pleaded not guilty and are out on M500 bail each, are Tšeliso ‘Mapentane’ Ramtala, Tšepo ‘Motion’ Jobo, Tumisang Ramanyaka and Limpo Machatsi—cited as Accused One to Four respectively. Petlane told presiding judge, Justice Tšeliso Monaphathi, that he saw the four men attack Thejane on 3 August 2008.
Petlane said the assault took place at Leuta’s Garden Restaurant in Mafeteng where he worked at the time. Thejane died at Queen Elizabeth II Hospital a day after the attack allegedly from wounds sustained in the assault.
“It was a Bantu FC celebration and there was a lot of food and alcohol being consumed. The whole night, people were drinking and most of them got so drunk during the occasion,” Petlane told the court.
“I then saw people who were collecting entrance fees go outside with a man I could identify.
“However, when they came back, they were holding a person I could not recognise because his face was bloodied.
“They went into the kitchen with the man and began assaulting him with sticks and beer bottles and there were many people hitting him after that. I could only identify three of the attackers by name.”
Justice Monaphathi then asked Petlane to touch the shoulders of the people who allegedly assaulted Thejane.
The security guard then tapped Ramtala, Jobo and Machatsi .
Justice Monaphathi further asked if Ramanyaka was also present during the attack.
“He was there but I didn’t know him by name,” Petlane said. “Accused One and Three were assaulting the deceased with white sticks, while Accused Two and Four used bottles.
“They trampled on him, beating him from head to toe. I tried to intervene but was hit with a stick on the hand by Accused One.”
Petlane further told the court: “Someone who had come from outside then entered, and picked the injured man from the floor and made him sit. That man was then assisted to carry the victim to hospital by another person I could not identify.”
The security guard said he only discovered later that the person he tried to save had passed away.
Thejane’s brother, Sello, also testified in court and narrated how he saw his sibling being beaten to death.
However, Justice Monapathi told Sello: “Accused One to Three deny assaulting your brother.”
“They are not telling the truth my Lord,” responded Sello.
Defense counsel, Advocate Rethabile Setlojoane accused Sello of having been drunk on the day in question hence he could not have seen what happened to his brother.
“Are you aware Accused One to Three had organised the Bantu function and hired security guards for this particular event? It is highly possible that your brother met with these security men and were among the people who assaulted your brother,” Advocate Setlojoane said.
“I don’t know,” responded Sello.
The judge then intervened to ask why he wasn’t drinking since he had said he was sober that night.
“I wasn’t feeling well to drink on that day…I only had water and coke,” he said.
“…There was light and the place was not too big, hence I could see who was assaulting my brother.”
Meanwhile, Justice Monaphathi postponed the matter to 6 October.
Advocates Setlojoane and Letuka Molati are representing the accused in the trial, while Crown counsel is Advocate Hlalefang Motinyane.