What started as an outing to the Hartbeespoort Dam in North West nearly turned deadly for National Arts Council of SA chairperson when he was allegedly assaulted and called the K-word.
Hartley Ngoato, a prominent lawyer and a businessman, said he was initially baffled by the incident which took place at the Schoemansville Oewerklub this past Sunday. He had taken his candidate attorney, Thembelani Mpakati, out for a ride on the dam.
Ngoato said after he had spent about four hours on the water, a white man rudely approached his window, accusing him of nearly knocking over his son.
He alleged that the man attacked him with a weapon, which left Ngoato bleeding and on the floor.
He sustained a severe laceration to the head, bruises and cuts to his face as a result of having his face pummelled into the concrete ground. His left leg was scarred, right hand swollen and face completely bruised. Mpakati had been allegedly held back by other men.
He opened a case with police, he said. Ngoato said a committee member at the club, Theo Wolmarans, told him that the man would not have attacked him without a reason.
Approached for comment Wolmarans said the club had a statement that was with the lawyer but refused to provide the lawyer’s details.
The contentious land issues in the area are believed to be behind the attack.
Land around the Hartbeespoort Dam belongs to the government, and white people owned lodges and lived on land close to it as well, said Ngoato.
A statement issued on behalf of the family read: “A few months ago, Mr Ngoato was interviewed by Carte Blanche as a member of the Hartbeespoortdam Hyacinth Removal Committee requesting government intervention in respect of the state of the dam.
“Today, as a black man, he is being denied access to the same dam by white people.
“The attack on Ngoato comes at a time when racial tensions in Hartbeespoort are at a peak following vehement opposition by the predominant white Afrikaner community to increased applications by black people seeking leases to conduct business on state land along the shores of the dam.
“It is known within the white community that Mr Ngoato is one of the black local businesspeople currently scouting for available state land to expand his businesses.”
Ngoato owns and runs a lodge in Schoemansville, a suburb in Hartbeespoort, which sits on the shores of the dam.