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Gunmen storm popular night club

 

THE door to the club's toilet was destroyed by the  gunmen.
THE door to the club’s toilet was destroyed by the gunmen.

…severely assault patrons with property worth M23 000 being destroyed during the mayhem

Lekhetho Ntsukunyane

SCORES of patrons having a good time at Club DeFasto in Matala Phase II on Friday night were severely assaulted by heavily-armed assailants witnesses yesterday alleged were as many as 50.

Following the attack, in which property worth M23 000 was destroyed and stolen, some of the injured patrons were taken to Queen ’Mamohato Memorial Hospital by Lithoteng police where they were still admitted yesterday.

When the Sunday Express crew visited the club popularly known as Setsoto, it was met with damaged doors, broken windows, a collapsed ceiling and traces of blood on the walls and floor.

According to one of the bartenders, Thabo Moifo, the “ordeal” lasted about 45 minutes.

“It had been business as usual until I saw scores of people holding rifles, wearing dark blankets and covering their faces with balaclavas, forcing their way into the club,” he said.

“They immediately started assaulting everyone including us, the workers. I managed to find a hiding spot in the kitchen. The attackers were as many as 50 in my estimation, and I watched in horror as they beat up everyone in the club using the butts of their guns, big sticks and batons. They broke windows and doors after some of the customers tried to hide. They did not say what the assault was all about.”

One of the club’s patrons, who requested anonymity, said he tried to hide in the bathroom with another customer, “but the gunmen broke down the bathroom door using their gun butts”.

The patron said he tried to hide in the ceiling after realising he would soon be discovered in the toilet.

“After I managed to scramble into the ceiling, it immediately collapsed, probably because it couldn’t carry my weight. After I fell onto the floor, I surrendered to the assailants, but I think one of them knew me because he just instructed me get out of the way while they beat up the other guy I was hiding with in the bathroom,” he said.

The owner of the club, Thapelo ’Mota, told the Sunday Express he received a phone call from one of his employees around 11pm, warning him of the attack.

“The employee tried to inform me that a large number of armed assailants, mostly covering their faces with balaclavas and carrying big guns, had just invaded the club,” said Mr ’Mota.

“He was also crying, so I couldn’t immediately figure out what he meant. And suddenly the call was cut-off.

“I then received several phone calls from customers and other people following the first call. And the message was the same that the club was under attack and everyone was being beaten up. I also received calls warning me not to come anywhere near the club because they feared that I would be killed.”

He said the damage to the club was about M23000, “which includes the stolen M15 000 in cash and beverages”.

Mr ’Mota said he had since been informed the attack was similar to what happened at a nearby bar last weekend.

“I am told a similar incident took place at a nearby public bar last weekend after someone was beaten up by some people. It’s as if this group of assailants was on a revenge mission because the victim of the assault was one of them,” he said.

The matter, Mr ’Mota said, was immediately reported to the Lithoteng police “who quickly came to the scene, but by then, the assailants had left the club”.

For her part, Lithoteng Police Post commander, Senior Inspector ’Mantolo Mothibeli, confirmed a docket on the attack had been opened.

“I am yet to report this matter to my superiors at Police Headquarters. However, at the moment, I can only confirm that a case has been opened relating to an incident where some people were assaulted and some of the victims were so seriously injured they are currently receiving treatment in hospital. Others are nursing their bruises at home. We don’t know who the perpetrators are as yet,” she said.

 

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