‘I will never forgive them’ – SA athletics champ Thabang Mosiako on alleged racial attack

South Africa’s 5 000m athletics champion Thabang Mosiako who was a victim of an alleged racial attack near North West University’s (NWU) Potchefstroom campus says he can’t forgive the group of men who were behind the incident.

“I will never forgive them – it doesn’t work like [that]. You don’t just attack someone and don’t take responsibility for that. When I think of my three-month-old son who nearly lost his father it tears my heart apart. That was what I was thinking about when those guys beat me; I thought I was dying,” Thabang tells DRUM.

The incident took place outside Varsity Café during NWU's Raising and Giving events on 4 February. Thabang was admitted at Potchefstroom Hospital after he sustained head injuries and a fractured right arm. The athlete, who is studying human resource development at Boston City campus in Potchefstroom, says he woke up in the hospital later in the day. When he was attacked, the 22-year-old was with friends Rantso Mokopane and Sandy Londt who also reportedly suffered minor injuries in the attack.

Rantso says the incident began at Varsity Café when the attackers, a group of white men started swearing at an elderly cashier. He tried to mediate and asked them to stop swearing at the woman. Thabang says when Rantso came outside where he was waiting for him with Sandy, the group had grown to about 10 large men who then attacked Rantso. Thabang tried to break up the fight.

“The police came and stopped the fight but the police aimed at us and started beating us with batons as if we were the ones who were in the wrong,” Rantso tells us. “We felt discriminated against because the police didn’t listen to our explanation.”

The attack left Thabang’s career ambitions hanging in the balance as he is supposed to compete in the African Championships from 17 March.  But Thabang is adamant he will be ready in time to compete in the event. “Running is my first love before anything else.  Athletics runs through my veins and I believe that I will make South Africa proud.”

He says the doctors advised him that he might be able to start training in two weeks’ time. In the meantime the athlete is recovering at home after he was discharged from hospital after spending two days there.

Police spokesperson Adele Myburgh told News24 that they had established a task team and that the case of assault with intent to do grievous bodily harm was receiving attention. Myburgh said she was unaware of claims that Thagang and his friends had been beaten by police officers. 

Thabang says that although many believe it was a racial attack, he doesn’t share the same sentiments. “I don’t think it’s a racial attack – any men can do that. I think it was just guys being drunk and getting angry at the spur of the moment.” 

No one has been arrested yet.