Vigilantes chopped off his little finger with a panga

Sakhile Mokoena

A village headman and a group of villagers have been accused of chopping off a man's finger for being a thief and taking their women.

But Lilly Mlotshwa, the mother of the victim, said her son, Sifiso Whyken, was a victim of mistaken identity.

"The people who stole from the spaza shop were found with the stolen items and have been arrested, and now my son has been attacked for no reason.

"Who will bring back my son's finger?" asked Mlotshwa, who is a police officer at the local Calcutta police station.

The headman of Oakley village, in Bushbuckridge, and some of his followers are accused of attacking Whyken, 20, with pangas and chopping off his finger last week.

They appeared in the Mkhuhlu magistrates' court on charges of assault with intent to do grievous bodily harm.

Whyken said he was attacked while walking home from a shop with a friend. He said a group of men accosted them and accused them of taking their women. The men asked Whyken and his friend what they were doing on the street at night.

"They told my friend to go and said I was the person they wanted. They chopped off my little finger with a panga," said Whyken from his hospital bed.

"They tied my hands with wire and left me in the road."

Bleeding and in pain, Whyken said he picked up his finger and went home. His brother, Bonginkosi, removed the wires from his hands and called an ambulance.

His mother said she called the cops, but was told that all the police's vans were out on patrol.

"That was a lie - there are many vehicles at the police station. The cops were just lazy," said Mlotshwa.

The police have opened a case of assault on Whyken.

But his alleged attackers have laid a counter charge of house-breaking against him. The police have chained Whyken to his hospital bed and put him under police guard.

Mlotshwa said she would report the police's treatment of her son to the Human Rights Commission.

She said she and her family would bury Whyken's finger when her husband returned from Durban.

Police spokesman Sydney Tshuketana said the police were investigating the circumstances of the assault on Whyken.