South African Photographer’s Images of Attack on Immigrant Lead to Arrests

Posted by on Monday April 20, 2015 | Photojournalism

© Sunday Times/timeslive.co.za

© Sunday Times/timeslive.co.za

James Oatway, a photographer with the Sunday Times of South Africa, managed to capture a mob of men fatally attacking a Mozambique man on April 18 in Alexandra township. Oatway’s photos, published on the front page of the Times yesterday, lead to the arrest of three suspects, according to the newspaper. Another suspect is still being sought, and local police have offered a reward of 100,000 Rand for help finding him. Oatway, a veteran photojournalist who has covered stories in Central African Republic, Congo, Haiti and South Africa, had gone to Alexandra to cover the looting of immigrant-owned businesses that broke out two weeks ago.

Though Oatway sought medical attention for the victim, Emmanuel Sithole, the photographer has had to answer questions about his actions in the midst of the attack.

Oatway told the BBC that he saw a man wielding a monkey wrench knock Sithole to the ground and beat him. Oatway ran closer to get photos. When Sithole managed to stand, a man with a knife ran up and stabbed him repeatedly.

Oatway says the attack lasted “two minutes.” After Sithole collapsed, Oatway got the bleeding-but-still-conscious man into his car and drove him to a nearby clinic where he was told they couldn’t treat him. According to the Times, the clinic’s only doctor, a foreigner, had stayed away out of fear of xenophobic violence. When Oatway reached a hospital, medical professionals tried to perform CPR on Sithole but “they declared him dead,” Oatway says. “I really wish we could have saved him,” Oatway told the BBC.

Sithole was identified by the cellphone found in his pocket.

The government of South Africa has reported that over 300 people have been arrested in connection with the looting and violence against immigrants from across Africa.


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