Potch race attack: SA stands to lose a champ
SA athletics champion Thabang Mosiako is waiting to hear from doctors if he can run again
South Africa’s 5,000-metres athletics champion Thabang Mosiako is not the kind of guy to just give up.
Even after being beaten up in Potchefstroom about a week ago in a suspected racial attack, he tried to train again on Friday for the CAA African Cross Country Championships in Chlef, Algeria in March.
“He could not stay home; he asked to join training. We have been training since December. He did well on Friday but we still have to wait for the doctor to tell us what’s what,” his coach, Spring Phakate, told Times Select.
He said Mosiako was a special person and an inspiration for his team.
“Some of his team mates look up to him and he is not selfish. He shares his methods with them and motivates them. Being such a person, I would not expect that he was careless and disrespected anyone. Even though I was not with them, I know the kind of person he is,” said Phakate.“He’s a laid-back person with a lot of discipline. He treats me like his father; he is open with me. We talk about almost everything. That way I am able to understand what he needs and where he’s at in life and training.”
Mosiako was assaulted last week Sunday at Die Bult, a student hangout a few blocks away from the Potchefstroom campus of the University of North West. This was during the student fundraising RAG event.
Mosiako was hospitalised after suffering head injuries when he was beaten up by a group of young white men. He had reprimanded them when they were verbally abusive towards a cashier, according to initial reports by the Potchefstroom Herald.
“The area they went to has a certain culture of racism. Also, it was during a busy student event, they tend to lose control,” Phakate said.
He said it would be a huge loss for the country if Mosiako could not run again.“Something like that might affect the team negatively, and it’s not just us, but the country that stands to lose a champ. We cannot tolerate this kind of behaviour from white people anymore. It’s out of hand. I’m proud of the boys for standing up for their rights and seeking justice,” Phakate said.
Mosiako told Times Select the assault had left him traumatised.
“I can’t believe I have to represent them‚ and they did this to me. The hatred is so rife‚ it’s like there’s no tolerance. I don’t understand why we allow these things to happen‚ or why they even happen. It doesn’t make sense‚” he said on Monday.
Mosiako, who is studying human resources development at Boston City College in Potchefstroom, was waiting to get feedback from his doctor on whether he would be able to compete in Algeria.
“I just want to run. That’s what I do. I run. I am stressed as I don’t know what the doctor will say. My results were supposed to come out today [Monday]. I feel better physically, though. I have been discharged‚” Mosiako said.North West police spokesperson Lieutenant Colonel Adele Myburgh said a task team had been established to investigate the matter but no arrests had been made by Monday afternoon.
Phakate expressed his frustration with the police investigation.
“Our justice system is not only slow; it does not give these kinds of crimes the kind of attention they deserve. They don’t take racism serious. It makes me wonder where we are headed as a country,” Phakate said.
North West University spokesman Louis Jacobs said the institution’s protection services were working closely with the police to try and get the perpetrators apprehended.
“We, however, cannot conduct an independent investigation as the incident happened outside the premises of the university. We are just helping the police. The point is to gather as much information as we can so that we can hand it over to the police.
“We are sitting on the edges of our chairs because we need to know for a fact if these are our students or not. If they are, we will then begin the disciplinary process,” Jacobs said.