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Fury over Highgate attack

Police are investigating after a couple laid a complaint of assault, saying a group of men at East London’s Highgate Hotel had beaten them.

The Nigerian couple, Femi Odimeyeni and wife Temi Laoye, say they were attacked and told to go back to their country of birth.

The incident happened on Friday, November 14.

Laoye suffered severe head injuries while Odimeyeni managed to flee.

Speaking to the Dispatch at her home in Highgate, Laoye said the men who attacked them nearly killed her.

“All the people, all white males, attacked me and they later dragged me outside of that hotel.

“I was screaming and when my husband came, he was assaulted and he had to run away,” said Laoye.

Cambridge police station spokesman Captain Mluleki Mbi said they were investigating the case. “No arrest has been made so far,” said Mbi.

A manager at the hotel, who refused to divulge her name when contacted by the Dispatch, said she did not want to comment.

“I saw what happened but I’ll rather leave it to the police to do their work,” she said.

Laoye said she had decided to have a drink at the hotel while waiting for her husband Odimeyeni to pick her up.

She said she sat at the bar and ordered a drink, “minding her own business”.

A woman working behind the bar later approached her telling her that they would be closing soon.

“She approached me in her vernacular Xhosa language and I told her that I don’t understand what she was saying. She screamed at me, saying ‘these Nigerians are here to cause trouble’. I didn’t talk back,” she said.

It is alleged that a few minutes later, a white man wearing a security company uniform came to her and started punching her.

“Without asking, his friends came and beat me up.

“One throttled me and they then dragged me out of the place. One of them smashed my expensive phone,” the woman said.

Odimeyeni, who came to his wife’s rescue, said he was shocked by what he called “pure racism and xenophobia” in a supposedly rainbow nation.

“Our home is just a few blocks up and we know the history of what happened here in the 1990s, when a racism-fuelled attack left people dead, with some wounded.” — bonganif@dispatch.co.za

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