Mozambican thief flees compatriots

Riot Hlatshwayo

Drama erupted on the streets of Nelspruit this weekend when a group of Mozambicans pursued a compatriot whom they said was a disgrace to his country.

The self-confessed thief admitted he had disappeared for more than a week with R2000 belonging to his Mozambican employer.

Bystanders watched as other Mozambicans chased the unidentified man down Henshall Street near the taxi rank.

"I have been concerned because South Africans hate us and want us to go back to our home country, but I now realise why," said the employer, who asked to remain anonymous.

"This thief is my fellow countryman in Mozambique but he stole from me."

A group of Mozambicans said they had been looking for the thief for about a week when they spotted him.

"We chased him and eventually grabbed him before handing him over to his employer, who had hired us to look for him," said Domingo Sithole.

The thief risked his life by ignoring traffic lights and dodging vehicles to elude capture. Some of the men who caught him roughed him up when he refused to accompany them to his employer. Once delivered to the employer, he asked the men to allow the thief to sit on the ground while he interrogated him.

"I want my money even if you can't pay all of it at once because you are my brother from Mozambique. You are lucky you stole from me. I wonder what would have happened if you had stolen from South Africans?" he chastised the crestfallen thief.

"You are bad news because you cause South Africans to hate us," said the angry employer.

The thief had more than R1000 on him and was allowed to leave after he agreed to pay the balance within a week.

"Please let me go and don't take me to the police. They will deport me because I am in this country illegally," the thief pleaded before being sent on his way.