Machadodorp burns as two men released on bail

A truck burning on the N4 on Friday after angry community members set it alight due to the release of two white men accused of assaulting a black man.
A truck burning on the N4 on Friday after angry community members set it alight due to the release of two white men accused of assaulting a black man.
Image: Mandla Khoza

The release of two white men accused of assaulting and dragging a black man has triggered a community in Mpumalanga to vent their anger by burning a truck and barricading the N4 highway. 

Police had to use rubber bullets to disperse Machadodorp residents who attended the court case against Wyn Swart, 20, and Bruce Botha, 29, for assault with intent to cause grievous bodily harm where the two were granted bail of R500 each on Friday. 

Angry residents wanted to set alight the Belfast Magistrate's Court but were prevented from doing so. 

They then went to the N4 at the entrance of Machadodorp and parked a truck across the road before setting it on fire. 

They also went to burn tyres in the town and closed all businesses. 

“We cannot stop until these racist criminals go to jail. We are very disappointed at the police and the court for granting these people bail. Why, because they are white, should they have to enjoy their weekend at home?,” said Sipho Mahlangu.

Members of the EFF and ANC jointly picketed outside the court and together joined the community in their protest. 

EFF chairperson Collen Sedibe said this case should have been like the coffin case,however, it becomes clear that black lives don’t matter in courts. 

“Our court has let the community down, they want to let the whole community burn for two men who are accused of beating a black person. We are totally disappointed in the police and the courts,” said Sedibe. 

Liah Mabuza, secretary of the Nkangala ANC, condemned the violence but voiced disappointment that the men were released on bail. 

“As far as we don’t want violence, but we are disappointed that the court released these men on bail, not just bail, R500, which shows they don’t value the life of a black man,” said Mabuza.

Community members blamed the police investigating officer on the case for not coming to court, hence the bail to the accused. 

“This investigating officer was paid by these people; how come he didn’t come to court to testify against bail,” said community members outside the court. 

Mpumalanga police spokesperson Brigadier Leonard Hlathi accused the community of stopping the investigating officer from going inside court. 

“Due to the community feeling at the court, the investigating officer was one of the people who could not enter the court. He was ready to oppose bail inside but was stopped because of the community at the court entrance,” said Hlathi. 

Swart and Botha were not asked to plead on charges of assault GBH when they appeared.

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