Zandile Maweza saw a shocking video of a man burning to death in a deadly mob-justice attack in Parkwood on Tuesday May 31, but little did she know it was her boyfriend, Abongile Mafalala, 31, an e-hailing driver from Dunoon.
At least nine people were arrested in connection with the robbery and murder of Mr Mafalala, according to provincial police spokesman Warrant Officer Joseph Swartbooi.
Four men and a woman, between the ages of 19 and 43, appeared in the Magistrate’s Court on Monday on charges of murder and robbery. A fifth man has turned state witness, according to Grassy Park police station commander Colonel Dawood Laing.
The case was postponed to Monday June 13 for a bail hearing and the accused were remanded in custody.
Graphic videos of the brutal attack were widely circulated on social media.
Mr Mafalala was attacked after being falsely accused of involvement in the kidnapping of two children.
Tabletalk has three different videos of the attack, where Mr Mafalala was beaten with poles, sticks and various other objects. He was then set alight alongside his Avanza, next to Prince George Drive.
Bolt South Africa manager Takura Malaba confirmed that Mr Mafalala was one of their drivers and his trip request had been at 10.37am, shortly before his death.
Bolt was investigating the incident and assisting the police, he said.
On Sunday, the Parkwood community held an interfaith vigil at the spot where Mr Mafalala was killed and asked his family for forgiveness. But the family say they are not ready to forgive and want the perpetrators behind bars.
Tabletalk met with Mr Mafalala’s family on Saturday. His two sisters, nieces and nephews, and girlfriend sat in their living room as family and friends came to offer their condolences.
Mr Mafalala’s sisters were too distraught to speak to us.
Ms Maweza, said she had received the videos of the killing on social media but had not realised it was her boyfriend until a neighbour, who worked with Mr Mafalala, visited the family to tell them the bad news.
Ms Maweza said the idea of “him not being around anymore” still had not sunk in, but she needed to be strong for his sisters, who no longer had their parents.
She described Mr Mafalala as a “shy and very humble man”, loved by the community for his kindness and love for children, even though he never had any of his own.
“We were planning to get married after dating for five years, which is soon, and we were planning to have children,” she said.
The family were demanding justice, she said, adding that they were finding it hard to forgive the people of Parkwood, despite their many attempts to “make peace”.
Ms Maweza believes that the attack was racist and unfair.
“I can tell by the video that they approached him in Afrikaans, which is a language he does not understand, and he could not protect himself by telling them that he is not a kidnapper,” she said.
A Parkwood community leader, Pastor Paul Philips, said community leaders had tried to reach out to Mr Mafalala’s family, but there “isn’t an open door yet”.
It had been a “small segment” of the community that had taken matters into their own hands, he said.
Ward 104 councillor Meisie Makuwa said Mr Mafalala had been like family to her, and news of his death had left her “extremely broken”.
The family were finding it hard to come to terms with his death, she said.
“It wouldn’t be that easy for them to forgive those people who hurt him,” she said.
Mr Mafalala had been a respectful man who had always had a bright smile on his face.
“As a community we are saddened that Abongile was brutally attacked by people who accused him of kidnapping, which is something he would never do because he had such a big heart.”
Contact Zandile Maweza at 084 231 7918 or Khuselwa Mafalala 068 323 5053 if you would like to help Mr Mafalala’s family with his funeral arrangements.