Cape Town – “I don’t understand how it is that someone can do something like that to another human being.”
These were the words of a still dazed and confused Mzwanele Wellem, the security guard who was just doing his job in a Stellenbosch shopping centre’s parking lot when he was driven over by the owner of a bakkie and left for dead.
“Everyone I work with is good, alright,” he said, giving a thumbs up to indicate that shoppers accept his traffic direction as they pull into and out of the parking bays at Die Boord. “They listen to me and are respectful.”
So when Wellem, 39, last Tuesday directed a white Corsa bakkie that was pointing in the wrong direction to obey the one-way road markings, the last thing he bargained for was a hit-and-run.
“I never expected it,” said the father of a young daughter on Friday from the Kayamandi home he shares with his girlfriend.
“That something like that can happen I didn’t even see it coming and I didn’t even feel the car hitting me. I was out,” he explained, indicating that he was unconscious.
“The next thing I remember was waking up in hospital. There was blood all over the place. But they treated me well.”
And Wellem responded miraculously. So much so that he was anxious to end the interview so he could be on his way to shop for food for his girlfriend before she left for work.
The CCTV footage of the horrific April 30 hit-and-run that went viral on social media, sparking widespread anger and condemnation, shows Wellem being hit by a white Corsa bakkie that then drives over him and departs, leaving him lying in the busy parking lot.
When asked about his injuries, Wellem lifted his cap to reveal a 5cm scar at the base of his skull that appears to be healing. He has another, he said, on his chest which he modestly declined to reveal. He still suffers from head, neck and stomach pains.
But it’s the psychological scarring that literally keeps him awake at night.
“When I’m awake it’s like I’m in a bad dream I can’t think straight. I can’t even remember my age. I’m confused that I’m still alive. And when I’m sleeping I’m having nightmares.”
Wellem said he was so traumatised that he couldn’t bear to bring himself to watch the video that has resulted in an avalanche of texts and missed call messages from journalists across the country.
“I’m not in a state to see the video. I’m too scared.”
Wellem said he was also afraid to be near cars in the road and in parking lots. He was also fearful of being on his own. “I don’t want to be alone. I need to be with my cousins. I need them to assist me.”
Happy to be alive – which he said hadn’t quite sunk in – all Wellem wanted was peace.
“I just want to relax and get better so that I can face tomorrow.”
In Stellenbosch Magistrate’s Court yesterday, the accused driver, Johan Steyn, 38, pleaded fear of incarceration in his bail affidavit.
“The conditions in the cells are so bad,” he argued. “I fear I will contract (tuberculosis) and other diseases and viruses should I not be released.” Incarceration, added the Kraaifontein father of one, “has also placed severe emotional strain on myself as well as my family”.
The self-employed Steyn also pleaded poverty, saying he could afford only R2 000 bail, which was granted despite the investigating officer arguing that R10 000 was more fitting for an accused facing an attempted murder charge, alternatively assault with intent to do grievous bodily harm.
Regarding his upcoming trial, Steyn declared he intended pleading not guilty.
“It is and always has been my contention that I have not committed any offence as alleged in this matter.”