A self-employed mother from Winterveld, in Pretoria, is appealing for help as she fears her son might end up either doing drugs or on the wrong side of the law following an arrest over a charge she rejects as false.
Monica Maseko and her son, Siphesihle, were arrested in March last year and charged with common assault. They are accused of beating up a neighbour’s son, Keorapetse Monnakgotla (27), who was allegedly part of a group of boys who broke into her shop and stole her equipment in February of the same year.
Maseko poured her heart out to Ynews, in an emotional interview where she opened up about the impact the assault case has had on her 20-year-old son.
She says her life has been turned upside down by the break-in and the subsequent developments.
Maseko says on the day she found out that she knew one of the culprits, she decided to confront him.
However, Monnakgotla denied knowledge of the said incident. He confessed at a local police station after she forced him to go with her.
His mother contacted Maseko while at the police station after a call to her by his girlfriend and negotiated that she drops the charges against her son. She promised to replace the Deep Fryer that was among the equipment stolen from Maseko’s shop.
The next day, Monnakgotla’s mother allegedly returned to Maseko’s home with a vengeance, telling her she will pay for dragging her son to the police station. She allegedly also told her that she has enough money to buy Maseko and her children.
“That woman told me how poor I am and how much I rushed to make babies. She asked for her Deep Fryer back. I then contacted the mother of her son’s girlfriend so that she could ask her to borrow me the machine until I buy a new one for myself.”
After a few days, Maseko alleges that police paid her an unexpected visit and informed her that the culprit’s mother had opened a case against her and her son for assault. This unexpected turn of events left her confused. Maseko says when she approached the police for assistance, she did not get the help she needed.
She says she ended up going to Monnakgotla’s home to apologise for initially opening a case against him, although he had stolen from her and had confessed to the crime.
She says weeks later, armed police officers budged into her home after midnight. They arrested her and her eldest son, Siphesihle, for assaulting Monnakgotla.
“I had to beg them to wear a T-shirt as they found me sleeping at home. My son was also not properly dressed. My children were crying as the police came with more than five vans. They took us to another crime scene. I was scared, thinking what would happen if a shootout ensues between them and the suspects they were going to arrest.”
“I kept thinking about my 15 and 7-year-old boys who I had left at home.”
Maseko says they arrived at the Loate Police Station after 2am and were made to sign papers without an explanation of what the documents were for or about.
“The police officer, who took us back home at around 4:30am, threatened to take me back to the cells if I continue irritating him, asking questions. My son was the one who was asking me to keep quiet for the sake of his brothers who we had left at home alone.”
She says the incident has left her son traumatised and angry. He is now aggressive and locks himself in.
“He also spends time at the tavern near our home. I am worried he might end up doing wrong things. When I ask him why, he cries. He says it’s painful that he was dragged by his pants and underwear as if he was a thug or had killed someone. We didn’t assault Keorapetse.”
She says the glimmer of hope that once existed in her son’s eyes has been replaced by a dark shadow, which she fears could lead to depression.
YNews also spoke to Siphesihle, who denies assaulting Monnakgotla.
He says this dilemma has him confused, especially since his mother is the one who asked the police to let Monnakgotla go after she reached an agreement with his mother.
“I feel like this whole thing is unfair. My mother is the one who said they should let him go. He just had to return her equipment. I didn’t hit him,” he says.
“What I also don’t understand is – when we took him to the police station – no one registered anything about him being injured. I just don’t get this whole thing,” adds the 20-year-old.
His mother says since the burglary, she has not been able to continue with the small business she started after losing her job.
Maseko says she now struggles not only to put bread on the table, but to also support her boys at school.
YNews contacted Monnakgotla to hear his side of the story. He, however, hung up after a brief introduction.
We also contacted his girlfriend, Nhlanhla Mthethwa, who is an eyewitness in the case.
Mthethwa refused to answer YNews’ questions, saying she will testify in court.
When asked on whether it is true that Maseko and her son assaulted Monnakgotla, she said: “Did she say her son didn’t assault Keo?”
When we probed her further on what her question means or insinuates, she said: “I am an eyewitness in court not to reporters and I will say my piece there. You guys can go ahead and write whatever she told you.”
Monnakgotla has, however, told another media house that he was assaulted by the community.
Maseko says the day her son, Siphesihle, saw that article – she feared the worst.
“I don’t know where my son slept that day. He just snapped and asked why the police harassed us for a person who was beaten up by the community. This has hurt me deeply. I try to be strong for my children but watching my son slipping away from me just like this – is unbearable.”
“I have informed my son’s school and they managed to find him counselling. The therapist sees him once a week. I know change doesn’t happen in one day but it’s difficult. I am so sorry but I feel like I am losing my son,” she sobs.
Maseko is also accusing the police of having lied in their pocket book about her background information.
“Here ama phoyisa babhale ukuthi I don’t have kids and they didn’t ask or explain everything to us,” she tells YNews.
Loate Station Commander, Molefe Makete, says he knows nothing about the alleged poor treatment Maseko and her son received from his officers.
“She must write down all the allegations and lodge a complaint at the police station and we will take it from there,” Makete told YNews.
And as Maseko’s next date to appear before the Garankuwa Magistrates’ Court approaches, she says her prayer is that they get exonerated, justice is served for the abuse they suffered at the hands of the police and that her son rises above the ordeal one day. The two are due back in court after numerous postponements on June 26.
“Here they said my son his not at school while he was doing grade 11 last year,” she adds to the alleged discrepancies contained in the police’s entry book.
Below is the letter, Maseko says, is from her son’s school that proves that Siphesihle is still a learner.
Below is a statement on the police’s pocket book which Maseko also rejects as false.
“Here this is all false they never told us our rights I don’t know what is the pocket book his talking about and our home language is isiZulu not Setswana as he wrote,” she told YNews.
Written by: Nokwazi Qumbisa