Sowetan reporter held hostage at school

A reporter and driver from the Sowetan newspaper were on Saturday afternoon held hostage for six hours by a group of people at the school of the embattled Jackie Maarohanye—the principal of the Ithutheng Trust school in Kliptown.

Gauteng police spokesperson Constable Sefako Xaba said Vusi Ndlovu had arranged for an interview with Maarohanye and, when he got there at noon, was met by a “large” group of people.

“They allowed the men in, pretending to be taking them to Maarohanye. Once inside, they locked them in a room where they assaulted and insulted them,” said Xaba.

The group—which apparently had a meeting at Maarohanye’s school—demanded to see the editor of the newspaper.

“He phoned news editor Willie Bokala who alerted the police.”

Police negotiators managed to secure the release of the men at around 6.30pm. A case of kidnapping was opened at the Kliptown police station.

“No arrests have been made yet, but legal action will definitely be taken against these people soon.
What they have done is totally unacceptable,” said Xaba.

Sowetan and Sunday World editor-in-chief Thabo Leshilo condemned Maarohanye’s “deplorable” act in the strongest possible terms.

Maarohanye made the headlines when she handed herself over to the police in October last year for cases including public violence and malicious damage to property.

The police issued a warrant for Maarohanye’s arrest on October 10 after pupils from her school took to the streets, burning tyres and blocking roads.

They were protesting against the police’s alleged failure to solve the death of a fellow pupil in a fire at the trust school. A 19-year-old pupil died in the fire and two others—also young men—escaped the blaze. Maarohanye allegedly insisted that a hut on the premises of the trust had been petrol bombed.

The two survivors told the police that, on the night in question, they went to bed with a burning brazier in the hut. Forensic reports also suggested no proof of a petrol bomb.

At the time, police spokesperson Senior Superintendent Mary Martins-Engelbrecht said Maarohanye was “instrumental” in the protest by the pupils and that is why she was arrested.

“These violent protests left five people injured and property damaged. A resident’s house was also broken into and several items stolen and burned,” Martins-Engelbrecht said. - Sapa

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