Counselling arranged for traumatised Marumo Gallants officials

The two Marumo Gallants officials who safely returned to the country after being detained in Benghazi for three weeks will be haunted by the ordeal for many years to come.

It for this reason that club boss Abram Sello has organised trauma counselling for media officer Rufus Matsena and the club’s physiotherapist Tebogo Dhlomo so that they can get back to their normal lives.

The duo was released after 21 days following the intervention of the South African government via the Department of International Relations and Cooperation, the SA Football Association and the SA ambassador to Tunisia Siphosezwe Masango.

While detained in the Al Fakhama Hotel Suites for failure to settle the club’s outstanding hotel bill to owner Dr Ali El-Zargha, the two officials constantly worried about their safety.

“You must understand that Libya is a Muslim country and they are currently experiencing Ramadan [Muslim month of fasting and prayer],” said Dhlomo.

“During the day, the shops are closed and they do not want to touch food. After 7pm, shops open and everything goes back to normal life. We are Christians and we wanted to eat during the day – maybe that was the problem.

“But I cannot look at you guys and say they did not give us food. They would give you a small yoghurt and juice, and that’s for the day. And after seven o’clock, we had food.”

“We did feel like our lives were in danger because we were uncomfortable that Rufus’ passport was taken.

“I think the experience affected me in a way that my family was not comfortable – if you go to Benghazi, you know how the country is … vandalised buildings, the army everywhere and then you get scared.

“It’s not what you often see in South Africa, we were not comfortable.”

Unlike Dhlomo, Matsena was more scathing of the treatment the pair received.

“We could not say a lot of things while we were still in Libya. We did not want to risk the situation and make things worse,” said Matsema.

“The hotel owner had a temper and we just had to play along. We were not treated right, and I would not wish this to happen to anyone.

“I am happy that the chairman [Abram Sello] is doing something to assist us mentally and psychological, so that we [can] forget [about] everything that we have experienced. It will help us a great deal.”

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