A 22-year-old Boston College student and top athlete was attacked and severely beaten, in what his friend has labelled a racially motivated attack.
The incident happened last week just outside the North West University campus, which condemned the attack.
Thabang Mosiako, the South African 5000m national athletic title holder, was set to travel to Algeria for the African Champs in March, but may not be able to do so.
According to Mosiako's friend Rantso Mokopane, 23, who posted a photo on Facebook of the champion in hospital after the attack, the racially motivated attack left Mosaiko with severe head trauma.
'Cry our beloved country'
"4th time being attacked in and around the NWU Campus and this time around my training partner severely injured and resulting in a head trauma which may lead to lifelong seizures. I always refrain from racial issues, but on all those 4 attacks it has always been white men engulfing and injuring non-whites without cause,... ..it saddens me that even police and protection services fail to protect where needed... #Cry_Our_ Beloved_Country (sic)."
Mokopane told the Potchefstroom Herald that their attackers were university students. He explained that a confrontation started when he intervened after three of the men had sworn at a cashier.
"I intervened and asked them to stop swearing at the lady. When I went outside, the group had multiplied and there were about ten rugby-bodied men who started attacking us," he said.
Mokopane said the police had arrived and broke up the fight but treated them as the antagonists. He said they left the scene and asked police to accompany them back to campus, as they were scared, but was ignored.
Mokopane told the Potchefstroom Herald that they had then been ambushed by the same men near the Virgin Active. "There were a lot of them and we did not stand a chance."
One of the men is alleged to have repeatedly bashed Mosiako's head on the ground after the group of men started kicking him.
NWU probing the incident
NWU spokesperson Louis Jacobs, said when they became aware of the incident, the university's Protection Services were immediately alerted and commenced with an investigation, despite the incident not occurring on campus.
"At the NWU, any form of racial discrimination is condemned in the strongest possible terms and any such incident is promptly handled in terms of the university's disciplinary procedures," he said.
Jacobs said there was nothing to indicate that the attackers were members of NWU and pointed out that the attack had taken place on the same weekend as the annual Raising and Giving (RAG) activities, which saw an influx of students from around the country.
He said Mokopane had provided the university with two license plate numbers, but that neither of these were registered with the university.
Police confirmed a case of assault with intent to do grievous bodily harm was being investigated.