Nine days after two men assaulted a petrol attendant at a Tzaneen filling station in a “racist” episode‚ they were brought to justice – but for their victim‚ Johannes Monyela‚ the trauma of his attack lingers on.
The Tzaneen District Court on Monday sentenced Hermanus van Dyk‚ 36‚ to two years behind bars and Danie le Roux‚ 29‚ to 18 months‚ after they pleaded guilty to counts of assault with the intent to do grievous bodily harm and crimen injuria.
“I feel better because they deserve what they got. Even when they come back [from prison] when they see a black person they will respect him‚” Monyela said of the prison terms handed down to his attackers.
The incident‚ captured on CCTV footage‚ took place on June 18 when Van Dyk and Le Roux kicked Monyela‚ 31‚ who had tried to escape‚ but failed.
Speaking to Tiso Black Star Group Digital‚ Monyela described the incident:
“They arrived and I attended to them. I spoke to [their] driver and asked him what he wants. He said he wants 93.
I said to him‚ ‘we don’t have 93‚ we’ve only got 95’.
“He said‚ ‘it’s fine‚ you can fill up for R100’.
“I turned around to go to the tank’s side‚ when the front passenger insulted me. He said ‘f**k you’.
“I said to him‚ ‘Why did you insult me?’
“He said‚ ‘yes‚ I do‚ you p**s.’
When Monyela asked the man to desist‚ he got out of the car and headed in his direction.
“The way he was coming to me‚ I could see he was coming for a fight.”
Van Dyk and Le Roux hit and kicked Monyela. Another man‚ driving Van Dyk and Le Roux‚ tried to placate the two men but was over-powered by them.
Monyela says this attack was his first but that he now lives in fear and anger.
“It made me feel so angry. I am still asking myself why this happened. Now everyone knows Johannes was beaten by white guys at work.
“I can see it’s racism‚ because I am the black and they are the whites.
“When I watched the [CCTV] footage I saw them meet at the petrol tanks [after the incident] and they hugged each other. They celebrated that they did that to me.
“Everywhere I go‚ I just [feel] that I’m naked. When I see a white person‚ I feel like I can cry.”
Van Dyk and Le Roux‚ who admitted in court that they had kicked Monyela with boots‚ were apprehended at the filling station shortly after the incident.
Monyela’s colleagues pressed the filling station’s panic button and security guards responded by blocking the garage’s exit points until police arrived to arrest the pair.
According to the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA)‚ in her judgment‚ magistrate Helen Mabuza-Mkansi said that the incident was unacceptable 22 years into democracy.
“They undermined the human dignity of the complainant and should be sentenced accordingly for disregarding both the Constitution and the rule of law‚” she said.
They have both been declared unfit to possess a firearm.
Ayesha Winkelmann‚ manager of the Sasol franchise Monyela works for‚ said this was an isolated attack.
Monyela‚ the father of two children aged five and six‚ said he was hurt by the way his young daughter looked at him after seeing footage of the incident.
“She turned around and looked at my face. She was asking herself why those guys are beating her father in that way.”
Monyela is concerned about supporting his family. He has been on sick leave since the incident and is not sure when he will be well enough to get back to work.
He sustained injuries to his head‚ right foot and right hand. He finds walking a struggle which makes it difficult for him to do his job – as a petrol attendant he is on his feet constantly.
The Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu) are covering Monyela’s medical expenses‚ he said.
But Monyela is being dogged by more than just his physical injuries.
“I just fear going back to work. Maybe some of the people will come back again and assault me because I am black.”