MASERU — A human resources officer at the High Court escaped death by a whisker on Thursday after he was attacked by a knife weilding retired driver who had accused him of delaying his terminal benefits.
Thabo Maliane was in his office when retired chauffeur Ntebele Taole attacked him.
Maliane sustained cuts on the right hand after Taole attacked him with a knife.
“On his arrival he just slapped and punched me saying I want my money,” Maliane said.
He said Taole then charged at him with an Okapi knife.
Maliane said it was when he tried to wrestle the knife from Taole that he got cut.
“In the scuffle I sustained injuries on two fingers,” he said.
Maliane said he had held the knife’s blade until assistant administration officer Boithabiso Sithole came to his rescue.
Maliane was taken to Carewell Clinic at Lakeside.
Sithole said he was in the bathroom when he heard someone shouting for help.
He initially thought that someone had fallen in the staircase.
“When I came out of the toilet I heard that the cry was not in the stairs but in the HR office and thought they were female staff joking,” Sithole said.
“Then I heard somebody calling me for help. When I opened the door I found Ntebele Taole pushing Maliane against the wall at the corner,” Sithole explained.
“The two were struggling for possession of an object with Maliane still shouting ‘Ntate Sithole nthuse’”.
Sithole said he then noticed that they were struggling over an Okapi knife and when he intervened Taole protested saying ‘no Sithole you can’t do that’.”
Sithole said Maliane was holding the blade of the knife and bleeding profusely.
“I managed to push Taole outside the office and closed the door. Maliane gave me the key to lock the door”.
Sithole said after about 10 minutes in the office they managed to phone secretaries in the chambers who came down and told them that they should open the door because police had taken Taole.
Blood stains were still visible on the mat inside the office and near the desk where the struggle took place.
There were also blood stains on Sithole’s jacket.
Taole was allegedly angered that his terminal benefits had not been paid since his retirement from the public service last September.
Maliane said he was shocked that Taole had turned violent because he has been working hard to ensure that he gets his benefits.
“I am still helping to process his terminal benefits and his file. He knows there is a problem. The process has already reached Public Service,” Maliane said.
He said he heard that the police were looking for Taole.
Maliane said although “the injuries are not that bad I now don’t feel secure in my office”.
The incident has triggered calls for better security for High Court employees.
Currently there are a number of police officers stationed at the High Court.
When the incident happened most of the police officers were attending the memorial service of a colleague at the High Court building.
Acting Registrar of the High Court and Court of Appeal, Lesitsi Mokeke, confirmed the incident but said he had not been fully briefed about it.
Mokeke said the management at the Palace of Justice is “deeply concerned about the incident”.
“We are now taking robust measures to improve security at the courts so that such incidents don’t happen again,” Mokeke said.
Police spokesperson Masupha Masupha could not be reached for comment yesterday.