It was just before 10pm when slain Zimbabwean national and Diepsloot resident, Elvis Nyathi and his family, had just watched all their evening soapies when furious voices of a group of men got nearer and nearer their shack. Nyathi, like many foreigners staying in this country, left his home country nearly a decade ago and came to live and work in South Africa.
And suddenly there were loud bangs on the corrugated iron, followed by voices demanding passports and Identity Documents, recounts one of the ladies who stays in one of the five small shacks in the congested compound.
Fear set in and survival mode kicked in – at the height of what some describe as “Afrophobic violence” that gripped the township earlier this week.
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She spoke to SABC News on condition of anonymity for fear of being targeted.
“Obviously, when you hear people shouting passport, and you have been hearing about Operation Dudula, you start to get scared,” she says.
It was at this point that, she says, Elvis, his wife and a friend hid behind one of the shacks.
“These men came in and searched us and beat us up. No one was spared. They even got in one of the shacks and they were about to open the gas stove and burn everyone to death but they saw a little baby and they stopped. And as they were about to leave, they noticed Elvis, his wife and the other guy behind the shack. Elvis and this guy tried to run away, up the street and all I could hear was Vimba, Vimba (meaning a block).”
And then they were both caught. “They beat them up and brought them back here,” she explains.
Demand for money
There was a glimmer of hope that Elvis and his friend would be let go when the attackers started demanding money from the family to let the two victims go.
“They asked for money and we were ready to give them everything we had and then they said they want R300. But we had R50 and they got angry and tied Elvis up and dragged him down the road like a dog,” she recollects hopelessly.
However, another opportunity for Elvis’s survival came when blue lights from a police van emerged from down the main road where they had dragged him.
“The police came, but these guys hid him from the police. Obviously, he no longer had a voice to scream at that time. And I think everyone was scared to ask the police for help,” she laments.
“Immediately after the police passed, they started pouring petrol on him and they set him alight.”
The other victim, also beaten to a pulp and left to die on the rocky street divided by a stinky little stream of sewerage spill, is currently recovering in hospital.
Elvis’s family is devastated. His younger brother, Miziayifani Nyathi says the family is not coping well with the tragedy.
“Eish, the family is just disturbed with this whole thing. For such a thing to happen, yet, the guy didn’t do anything. So, it’s really traumatic,” he says.
According to Miziayifani, Elvis’ sin was being outside as the group was searching for everyone in the shacks.
“They accused him of being outside while everyone was inside because he tried to hide behind this (place) since he’d heard these people talking about ID, passport and all that. So, that’s how they caught him.”