A 38-year-old Sowetan who was abducted, beaten, burnt and left for dead in what he believes was a tragic case of mistaken identity – is slowly regaining his memory.
The man, who asked not to be identified, said he believed a group of about nine men who nearly killed him, had mistaken him for someone else who shares the same name with him in Zola.
For more than a year, he struggled to remember what had happened to him after he was abducted two years ago in March in an assault in a veld next to the Jabulani hostel in Soweto. The attack left him severely scarred.
He spent 11 months recovering in hospital recovering, and thanks to two sessions of trauma counselling.
He has been feeling better and regaining his memory.
Speaking about the incident for the first time, he told Sowetan yesterday the attack had left him with third degree burns on his upper body, and had suffered worse burn wounds on his left leg which had to be amputated.
He also lost two fingers on his right hand.
He said a man unknown to him called him while he was walking towards a shop in his neighbourhood on the evening of March 13 2017.
He said they forced him into the vehicle.
“This guy called my name and I responded, but I was dragged into the taxi and assaulted by a group before I could explain to him that there are two in this neighbourbood with that name,” he said.
He said the man carried a five litre petrol container and poured it over his body while the other shouted “mayife lenja”(kill this dog).
He said they drove with him until he saw what looked like the back of a block of houses with an open space.
“I now can remember the feeling of the cold petrol running down my chest right into my pants and over my back.
“He took out the match box and I saw the match stick which he threw onto my chest and set me alight. I started screaming,” he said.
He was hospitalised for more than 11 months and thought he would die from his injuries.
“I still do not know why I was attacked,” he said.
He was yet to lay charges against his attackers as he did not know who his attackers were and was unable to remember their faces.
“I did not go to the police as yet because I was focusing on my recovery and I don’t know who to lay the charge against.
Before the attack, the 38-year-old man worked as a boilermaker and supported his 89-year-old grandmother.
“He is the only one left to take care of me,” the grandmother said.
He now walks with a prosthesis.
A friend, Fanyana Ngema who was with him hours before his abduction, said: “I was called by a neighbour and ran to the hospital and found him in a coma.”
Lt-Col Lungelo Dlamini said police were not aware if a case was opened, and normal procedure dictates this should have happened.