A SENIOR Eastern Cape Education Department official was arrested following an incident that left one man dead and another seriously injured at a village near King William's Town.
Ntsikelelo Vazi, the director of institutional management development and governance in the Education Department, and eight accomplices are alleged to have assaulted six men accompanying two young women home in the early hours of Saturday.
Vazi and the eight others were later arrested by Dimbaza police detectives but the education director, who is well known in the area, was "too sick" to be locked up in the police holding cell.
The incident, which has been confirmed by police, left relatives of the victims shocked as Vazi is a respected community member.
King William's Town police spokeswoman Lieutenant Siphokazi Mawisa said nine people, including Vazi, had been arrested in connection with the incident.
"Two suspects were arrested for assault and seven for murder and they appeared in the Dimbaza Magistrate's Court on Monday."
She was yesterday unable to say if Vazi was facing a charge of murder or just assault.
It is alleged the incident took place on Saturday when six young men from Nyanisweni village were walking two young women home from a local tavern. The men allege that Vazi, who was driving a vehicle, stopped next to them and called the young women to his vehicle.
It is not clear what relationship the woman have with Vazi, but an argument reportedly broke out and he allegedly assaulted the men with a sjambok before another group of men, in another vehicle, joined him.
Luphumlo Ngesi, 24, was left badly injured. He said they still had no idea what they had done wrong.
"I nearly lost my eye, and a friend of mine is dead ...," Ngesi said.
They had all escaped by running away except for his friend, Bonani Xhotyeni, who was found dead.
Xhotyeni's cousin, Samora, said the family wanted justice. "When he was found, his body was badly assaulted. It's hard for the family to deal with this and our wish is that the law can take its course."
Mzamo Nyweba, who escaped with minor injuries, said he was lucky to be alive. "If we didn't run away we would be dead by now."
Ngesi's father, Pellem Ngesi, said he did not understand why his son was assaulted. He alleged Vazi was given preferential treatment by police and was not locked up with his eight accomplices in the Dimbaza police station holding cells after they were arrested.
"I don't know the extent of my son's injuries but someone has to pay for this," he said.
"What makes things worse, I saw Vazi outside the police station while his accomplices were in jail. He told me he was too sick to be there and I called the police to explain. I was not happy."
Mawisa confirmed Vazi had been released, but said disciplinary steps would be taken against the detective who let him go.
Education Department spokesman Loyiso Pulumani declined to comment on the matter.