Youth killed in ‘racist’ hit and run

Gareth Wilson

A PORT Elizabeth youth was killed in a hit-and-run incident on Seaview Road, in what some allege was a racist action.

Police are searching for the occupants of a vehicle – believed to be a silver VW Polo or Jetta based on the side mirror that came off in the collision – that slammed into sports enthusiast Mpumelelo Apleni, 19, at about 9pm on Friday while he and three friends were walking home to Bushy Park from shops in Mount Pleasant.

Witnesses say he was flung 16m and landed in the bush.

Apleni’s devastated mother, Rebecca, described her son, a pupil at Walmer High School, as a “loving and helpful son”.

Rebecca said Mpumelelo wanted to be an entrepreneur and was an avid soccer player and runner.

The incident happened about 200m from the Elukholweni Primary School where Kim Trzebiatowsky, 47, was hit off her bicycle and killed in 2009.

ANC whip for safety and security Marion Harning, who spoke to the survivors but declined to allow them to be interviewed or named as they were severely traumatised and feared victimisation, said it appeared the incident was premeditated.

“They were walking two by two about 10m apart in the yellow line while facing oncoming traffic so that they could see approaching cars,” she said.

“The group saw a vehicle slowly creeping up towards them when the two walking in front were confronted. The vehicle occupants then shouted out the window and threw a beer bottle at them. The bottle struck one man on the hand before the car swerved into him and hit him on the leg.

“The driver then turned his headlight brights on and accelerated towards them. They [Apleni and his friend] attempted to jump out the way but unfortunately it was too late,” she said.

“The man who was walking with him then screamed at the guys in the car to stop but the driver turned the vehicle around and drove right past them back towards Seaview.”

Numerous pleas for help from the shocked pedestrians fell on deaf ears as the driver, and at least one passenger, waved their fists out the window while swearing at them. Five cars passed as they waved for help, and eventually a man stopped and contacted emergency officials.

Harning said young white men in the car hurled racial slurs at the victims before trying to run them down.

She said the incident had sparked a flurry of reports from pedestrians and cyclists who had fallen victim to speeding motorists along Seaview Road. “We are now trying to establish if it is the same group of guys who were involved with this accident.”

Gardmed Ambulance paramedic Craig Schwartz said Apleni died at the scene. The other victim was taken to Livingstone Hospital for treatment.

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