Being almost defenceless against the winter cold, armed with only two blankets and the clothes he is wearing, a homeless man who seeks shelter next to a wall at a fuel station in Ladanna every night, became the victim of two men who attacked and assaulted him without reason last Thursday.
The following morning, the blood on his face and the wall were evident of the violent attack on Michael Burning (44) by two seemingly intoxicated men.
Burning explained that he settled in for the night when two men in a blue Volkswagen stopped closed by. “They emerged from the vehicle and walked in my direction and without reason started assaulting me,” Burning said.
During the ordeal and from the conversation between the suspects, Burning apparently heard that they were part of the local Community Policing Forum (CPF) and they were on a mission to clean the city’s streets of homeless people.
This was indeed not the case. When we contacted Ladanna CPF Chairperson, Johan Duvenhage, he swiftly put a plan in place to trace the suspects.
With the help of management of the fuel station, security footage was obtained. Though the alleged assault happened off-camera, the blue Volkswagen with two occupants could be seen entering the premises and stopping close to where Burning was sleeping.
Two occupants emerged from the vehicle and walked in Burning’s direction. After a few seconds they made their way to the convenience store. One had a drink in his hand and they left the scene minutes later.
Duvenhage, as well as other members went out of their way to assist Burning. A search for the vehicle was immediately launched while Duvenhage tried to convince Burning to report the matter to the police.
At the time of going to print Duvenhage indicated that the vehicle has not been traced and Burning opted not to open a case at the police.
Duvenhage emphasised that the Ladanna CPF refrains from using any kind of violence during their patrols or operations. “We only use the necessary force should a suspect resist arrest by pinning them to the ground. He added that the youngest member of Ladanna CPF is 38 years old so there are no young members who could have been responsible for the attack as alleged by Burning,” Duvenhage said. He added that only himself and a member of Mighty Tactical Reaction Services (TRS) were on duty in the area the evening of the incident.
Story & photo: RC Myburgh