A former prisoner who says he is hoping to turn his life around claims he was viciously attacked by a group of Imizamo Yethu patrollers days before Christmas. Joshua Poni, 32, has been working as a car guard in Hout Bay in addition to doing odd jobs on mountain fire breaks since his release from Pollsmoor prison last November.
He is now living in the bushes on Baviaanskloof Road, fearing he cannot return to his home in Mandela Park.
However, the IY patrollers say Mr Poni has been causing trouble since his release from prison, and has been threatening the community.
Mr Poni has been in and out of prison since 2013. On two occasions he was arrested for theft while he has also been jailed for being in possession of stolen goods. After being released from prison on November 24, he decided he wanted to change for the sake of his six-year-old son and his girlfriend.
“When I left prison, I went to stay with my uncle in Khayelitsha, as this was the address I had given my case officer. During this time, I was going around Cape Town looking for work, and eventually I got an interview for a job working on the fire breaks,” Mr Poni said. “I told my case officer this, and she said she was happy for me to return to Hout Bay, as she believed it would be safer for me. There is a lot of crime in Khayelitsha.”
According to Mr Poni, he also managed to find work as a car guard on the Chapman’s Peak side of the beach. This was organised through his cousin Mike Mpotyeni, he said.
“On December 20, I went to our family home in Mandela Park. While I was there, two guys identifying themselves as IY patrollers said they were looking for my brother Daniel, who was not at home at the time. I asked them what had he done that they were looking for him, but they said they didn’t know, which was very strange. All they said was that Daniel had a case at the container (temporary office).
“I told them that I would give them Daniel, but only if they came with the police. The men then went away.”
Two days later, on Friday December 22, Mr Poni began work on the fire break above Camps Bay, after which he returned to Mandela Park at 3pm.
“I was walking towards our house with my other brother, Jabu. I went ahead, but I saw they were talking to Jabu. They were asking him if he was Daniel. He said he wasn’t, but Daniel might be at home.
“The guys then came with us, one of them was from the time before. As soon as we reached the house, Daniel came out of his room, but I told him to go back inside. Again I told them I would only hand him over if they came with the SAPS. They then left the house. What I didn’t know was that Daniel had gone out his bedroom window and was no longer in the house.”
Mr Poni said just before he left Camps Bay, a resident living at the base of the mountain had come over to the group working on the fire break. He thanked them for the work they were doing, and gifted them a few bottles of sparkling wine and tools, including a drilling machine. “Once the men left, I opened some of the champagne to drink and got tipsy. I then fell asleep on the couch. At about 5pm I woke up because of a big noise. There were a group of eight men with pangas and sjamboks shouting at me. One of the men told the others, ‘This is the guy giving us sh*t’. One of the other men then began slicing away at my head with a panga. The others were hitting my body with sjamboks. I was bleeding everywhere.”
Mr Poni said he managed to flee his attackers and ran down Mandela Road to the Hout Bay police station.
However, as he reached the station doors, the alleged officer in plain clothes told him not to come inside, but seek treatment for his injuries at the neighbouring Hout Bay fire station. “I passed out at the fire station, and the next thing I knew I was in an ambulance on the way to Victoria Hospital.”
The medical certificate from Victoria Hospital, which the Sentinel has seen, states Mr Poni was a victim of common assault, and suffered lacerations to the scalp and chest, with a panga cited as the cause.
However, IY patrollers treasurer Happy Msenge says the Poni brothers are trouble-makers.
“It is Joshua who threatened our patrollers with a knife and a panga. Since his release, he had been threatening people on the street. On that day (December 22), he was very drunk, and was threatening our guys with a knife and panga. He was saying he was a member of the 26s and 28s (gangs) and he was calling us a**holes and * *ssies. So we decided to teach him a lesson by beating him with sjamboks.”
Following this release from hospital on December 23, Mr Poni attempted to stay with his cousin, Mr Mpotyeni, at his bungalow
in Hangberg. However, his arrival as well as that of Daniel, who
had been in hiding, was greeted with animosity by neighbours, he said.
“They asked Mike why was he bringing ‘darkies’ and ‘skelms’ to Hangberg. He told them that I was his cousin, and explained my situation. They reached a compromise, but on Christmas Day, when Mike had gone to work, the neighbours came to the house again. One of them even came with an axe, and they said they weren’t scared of
“Instead of confronting them, Daniel and I went to see Mike where he was working and told him what was happening. When we got back to Hangberg though, the entire bungalow had been smashed up and our belongings were lying everywhere. Mike then went to Hout Bay police station to open a case.”
Mr Poni, Mr Mpotyeni as well as Daniel and Jabu Poni now fear returning to Imizamo Yethu and Hangberg, and since Boxing Day have been living in the bushes on Baviaanskloof Road. It is a steep descent to reach the tents for the family members, who frequently return from work late at night. “I want to change my life, to be an example to my child. I want him to go to school, to get proper schooling, and that’s why I’m working, I can’t move forward.
“I have asked Daniel what he has done, but he isn’t telling me. If he has done something, he must face the consequences like I have. But I want people to look into the power the IY patrollers have been given. It is not right what is happening.”
Queries sent to Hout Bay police spokesperson Warrant Officer Tanya Lesch were not responded to at the time this edition went to print.