Limpopo - The clothing store employees involved in the savage beating of a mother of four will face an internal disciplinary hearing.
CB Stores on Friday condemned the assault of Esther Mankge (49) and said in a statement that it would assist the police in bringing those responsible to book.
Mankge was filmed being beaten in a store room last October, after being accused of shoplifting at a CB Stores branch in Limpopo.
Police spokesperson Brigadier Hangweni Mulaudsi said Gladys Maphanga (45), Refilwe Mzimba (32) and Thobaga Makua (24), Maria Mahalela (32) and Mathews Makofane (28) appeared in court on Monday in connection with the incident.
Mankge was beaten with ropes, belts, a broom and a rubber mallet, while an unknown person filmed it on a cellphone camera.
A woman is heard laughing in the background during the assault, which lasts for almost four minutes.
During Monday's hearing, Mahalela and Makofane were released on R500 bail and were immediately suspended pending an internal hearing, CB Stores said in the statement.
Maphanga, Mzimba and Makua are due to appear at a bail application hearing in the Nebu Magistrate's Court on April 22.
Brigadier Mulaudsi said the three were serving a suspended sentence for a previous assault on two children when the assault on Mankge occurred.
"Once the other three are released, they too will be suspended and undergo an enquiry according to due legal process," CB Stores said.
"[We] are fully supportive of the police as they bring the perpetrators of this criminal act to justice. We in no way condone this behaviour and will pursue this matter to the fullest extent."
Mankge, a local vendor, accused the men of sexually assaulting her off camera and says she wants to sue them.
She only reported the incident to the police last week, more than six months after the assault took place.
"I took long because I was confused and I was hurt," Mankge said.
The video of her assault was published on YouTube by the Daily Sun on Tuesday.
"We are a community-based store and our staff are as much as possible employed from within the surrounding communities, CB Stores said.
"Our expectation is that our staff we employ within these communities uphold our company’s core values of respect and service to the community, and it is deeply saddening to have that expectation so betrayed."
President Jacob Zuma on Wednesday condemned the "physical abuse and assault meted out to a woman by two males" in the filmed attack that went viral this week.
"Regardless of alleged crime, all citizens have an inalienable right to human dignity as well as access to justice and the protection of law," he said in a press statement.
Brigadier Mulaudsi said he was made aware of the video and began investigating it on April 8.
He said the three awaiting their bail application hearing were in violation of their suspended sentence.
"Obviously we want to bring it forward to the court to show these are repeat offenders and as such the court will then have to make a determination whether to keep them in custody or they grant them bail," he said.
Caught on camera
This incident comes just a week after an eNCA.com exclusive showing an off-duty police officer beating a woman in full view of two of his uniformed colleagues.
Several other videos showing violent crimes shot on cellphone cameras and loaded onto the internet have also come to light in recent months, including the deadly assaults of Andries Tatane and Mozambican taxi driver Mido Macia.
Lisa Vetten, a gender activist and senior researcher and analyst for the Tshwaranang Legal Advocacy Centre said the group was shocked by the violence levelled against Mankge.
"There actually aren't words for this sort of thing," she said.
"There's these men going about it with such methodical concentration... it's like they aren't actually dealing with a human being."
Vetten said she was concerned about the fact that the video has gone viral.
"Her beating now being available in the public domain for other people to watch, that I think adds another dimension," she said.
"Now her humiliation is very public."
"When you are behind a camera it places a distance between you and what you are filming," she added.
"You become more focussed on getting everything into the picture than you do on what is actually happening to that person there and then."
eNCA.com contacted the managing director of the CB clothing chain based in Durban several times but was unable to get a response from him.
WARNING: Viewers may find the attached visuals disturbing, and caution that it is not suitable for children.