‘We are the kids our parents warned us about’: In the Polokwane teen gang
We speak to people who know the pupils allegedly behind Thoriso Themane’s murder. What they say will shock you
“We are the kids our parents warned us about.”
This is the profile picture of a WhatsApp group created by an alleged gang of teenage children in Polokwane, Limpopo.
Six members of the gang – known as the “maDhura squad” – are in police custody after being implicated in the killing of musician and student Thoriso Themani in Flora Park. Three men, all aged 36, are also in custody.
“Dhura”, which translates to “expensive” in English, is known for wearing expensive clothing brands, including adidas, Fila and Nike. They gather at Flora Park at the weekends, flashing cash and drinking expensive alcohol.
This is part of their lifestyle, according to a Capricorn High School pupil, who spoke to Times Select on condition of anonymity.
Themane, 27, was battered and bruised and left for dead in a park just 1.5km from his home more than a week ago. He was rushed to hospital, but ultimately died because of injuries.
A gruesome video of Themane lying on the ground after the attack last weekend went viral. Children can be heard saying that he would die.
The brutal nature of the attack and the contents of the video sparked a public outcry and led to the formation of the hashtag #JusticeForThorisho.
The pupil, who is a friend of the alleged gang members, said she learnt of Themane’s beating after gang members posted videos and pictures of the incident on their statuses. The pictures, showing a clenched fist, were captioned “ma Dhura squaD911, salute, respect”.
On Friday, hundreds of people converged on the old Peter Mokaba Stadium, from where they marched to the Polokwane police station to demand justice for Themane, and that the suspects are denied bail.
“If you are old enough to kill, you are old enough for a sentence,” the majority of the placards read.
Several marchers wore T-shirts with Themani’s face on them.
Another video, allegedly of a teenage suspect, in school uniform, admitting to have been involved in the assault, has also emerged. In the video the pupil says he is untouchable because his father is a cop. The pupil who recorded the video has since received a death threat and his family fears for their safety.
“I am scared for my life, for my family’s safety,” said the mother, who cannot be named to protect the identity of the child.
Times Select has seen two more videos related to Themane’s attack. These have not yet been shared on social media.
In one of the videos, Themane is seen being attended to by ambulance personnel, with people talking in the background.
One of the gang members captioned the video on WhatsApp with “Dhura squaD911 via West Side 647 bratxaq salute”.
Speaking of this video – and others – the anonymous friend of the gang said: “There are videos that other people have not seen yet. There’s a video where these boys started talking to him [Thorisho] while he was walking. You can’t hear what they are really saying ... then they started chasing him. There was a point where the girl went to him and slapped him in the face.”
While the nation was still reeling from shock after the two videos emerged, a friend who saw the other videos said she was battling to deal with the aftermath of what happened.
“These videos affected me in a very bad way because … the way they attacked this person [Thoriso] was as if he is not a human being, as if he is like not one of us.
“The most hurtful part is that he did not even try to fight back. All he was trying to do was run away to go home and get away from these boys, and they didn’t even stop,” she said.
Meanwhile, another teenager said the alleged gang was not remorseful after Themane’s attack.
“When they told us about it they weren’t scared or anything like that. It was just like boasting that they had beaten up someone and [that] they would be respected.
“Things only changed on Sunday when we heard that the person had died in hospital ... they didn’t think he would die,” she said.
Themane’s father, Pastor Mahlapahlapana Themane, 59, said the family had decided to not watch any footage of his son’s attack. It would traumatise them further, he said.
“We’ve heard of the videos being circulated. People have approached me, volunteering to show them to me, but I said no. It will traumatise us and derail the process of healing,” he said.
The pupil whose father is a retired policeman allegedly stabbed another pupil at a party in 2018. Police confirmed that a case, and a counter-case, were being investigated.
In an interview with Times Select, the stabbed pupil, Vincent Thomas, 18, said he was contacted by the police last week to inform him that his case had been reopened.
“I wouldn’t say that I am happy … because justice has not been served. Yes, my case was reopened, but that doesn’t mean anything,” he said.
Police spokesperson Brigadier Motlafela Mojapelo confirmed that a case of attempted murder was opened against the pupil in question in 2018.
“There is case from December 2018. However the suspect also opened a case of assault against the complainant. We will investigate both charges simultaneously because both suspects are known,” said Mojapelo.
A resident, Annah Ragedi, said Themani’s attackers could have been under the influence of drugs and alcohol when they attacked him. She said they would by now have regretted it.
“They are regretting it now, because they are sober; the drugs are out of their systems. But they must face the music,” she said.