A Black model’s leg was broken and her white fiancé was brutally beaten when the couple says part of a famous rugby club targeted them because they are different races.
Tobias Zehetleitner, a German businessman, said he was holding Mirriam Ngomani’s hand and standing in line to cash in casino winnings at about 3 a.m. Thursday at the Times Square Casino in Pretoria when a white man flicked a lit cigarette toward Ngomani, according to the Daily Mail.
Zehetleitner told the news outlet he approached the man who then asked:
“What’s wrong with you man? You are dating a baboon, a monkey.”
It’s unclear how the situation unfolded at this point, but Zehetleitner said two of the man’s friends pulled him away.
The situation would have ended there, but Zehetleitner said he and Ngomani had to walk back past the group of about six white men after cashing out.
Zehetleitner told the Daily Mail that’s when one of them called Ngomani “Black b—-” and “kaffir,” an Afrikaans racial slur referring to a Black African person, historically used mostly by white South Africans.
Zehetleitner said he confronted the group again to explain and the conversation turned violent.
“Three jumped on me and all and were giving me a kicking on the ground and I saw Mirriam being attacked so (I) shrugged these three off and bundled a couple of guys off of my fiancée,” Zehetleitner told the Daily Mail.
“Then they all attacked me at once,” he said. “I can handle three but five or six or seven or however many it was was too much, and I was beaten unconscious, and when I came round they had all gone.”
Time Square general manager Brett Hoppe told Sowetan Live news he “vehemently” refutes the couple’s version of what happened.
“Time Square does not tolerate racism or acts of violence and responds immediately should we encounter this,” Hoppe said. “Our extensive video footage is considerably at odds with initial media reports and allegations made.”
The casino has handed the footage over to the South African Police Service for its investigation, Hoppe said.
Zehetleitner said Ngomani’s foot was broken so badly in the incident that it pointed away at a 90-degree angle. The couple has pushed back wedding plans, Zehetleitner told the Daily Mail.
“She is in so much agony and has so many painkillers and has just had a major operation to fix her leg but the obvious fear for her as a model is will she be scarred or left with a limp,” Zehetleitner said.
Ngomani, who is known for her distinctive walk, was released from the hospital Sunday, according to Sowetan Live.
It’s unclear how the incident will affect her modeling career.
Botsang Moiloa, a spokesman for the family, told Sowetan Live that Ngomani and her partner will be “going home to recover and get support from families and friends.”
Zehetleitner said he knows the names of his attackers but authorities have asked them not to reveal them to protect their investigation.
“I have been asked not to say more until the police are ready to make arrests, but these guys are rugby players from a well known rugby team, so this is all very sensitive,” Zehetleitner said.