Lambardo Mabu, a 33 year-old Angolan refugee, was attacked and stabbed on a Bratislava bus by two young skinheads. Police have the culprits in custody.
photo: Tom Nicholson
The rampage began shortly before 22:00 when 19-year-old Ladislav Z. and 14-year-old Matej B. attacked three white men on Hodžovo námestie for reasons which have yet to be determined (the Bratislava police headquarters refused to answer questions on the matter, saying only that they had not yet received enough information on the attack to release a statement to the press). According to the SITA press agency, the victims were all taken to hospital where two of the attacked underwent surgery. As of May 2, the third remained in the intensive care unit.
The two short-haired youths continued their assault when they crossed the street and boarded the #93 bus heading towards the Bratislava suburb of Petržalka. They then turned their aggression on Lambardo Mabu, an Angolan refugee who fled his country in 1997 to escape war.
"They got on the bus and said, 'What are you doing in our country, you black monkey'," Mabu told The Slovak Spectator the day after the attack. "Then the little one said that he was going to kill me, and the big skinhead took out a knife and stabbed me in the forehead."
Baring freshly-sutured knife injuries on his forehead and left rib-cage, and displaying an arm heavily bandaged from a third stab wound, Mabu explained that after the initial stabbing he had raised his left arm in self-defence. When the larger skinhead cut deeply into his extended arm, Mabu was knocked to the ground where the fray continued while the 14-year-old repeatedly kicked him in the head and back.
Mabu said that no passengers on the crowded bus attempted to stop the attack. "Many people started shouting and one man called the police on his mobile," Mabu said. "But there were many people on the bus and nobody tried to help me."
The police report filed by Mabu contains the following account: "One of them was tall, about 185 cm. He said 'what are you doing in Slovakia, you black monkey'. Then he took out a knife and stabbed me in the forehead."
photo: Courtesy Lambardo Mabu
Both skinheads also came away with knife wounds, although how they received them was unclear. Mabu said that 14-year-old Matej B. was bloody when he first got on the bus and that the elder culprit had likely been injured in the ensuing fight.
Following the events of May 1, both the Slovak Helsinki Committee and the United Nations High Council for Refugees (UNHCR) in Slovakia called for an end to the racially-motivated violent attacks which are occurring with escalating regularity in the country.
"The UNHCR is concerned about the increasing number of attacks on foreigners, asylum seekers and refugees in Slovakia. We are also concerned about the increasing expressions of xenophobia, racism, intolerance, and discrimination displayed by a part of the Slovak citizenry, namely the skinhead movement predominantly supported by younger people" said Mária Čierna, the public relations officer for the UNHCR in Slovakia. "According to our discussions with other asylum seekers and refugees in Slovakia, several of them have already been the victims of racial attacks, many of which required hospitalisation."
The Slovak Helsinki Committee's Dagmar Kusá added: "This attack was especially sad because the two boys [skinheads] attacked several people. It is surprising that nobody did anything to stop it."
Mabu, who is married with two daughters (one 10 year-old and one 18 month-old), fled his homeland in 1995 and was granted refugee status in Slovakia on June 24, 1996. Čierna said that his integration into society had been difficult due to his struggles with the Slovak language. Despite his efforts to study, she said that his Slovak remained poor and that as a result he had only been able to gain part-time employment as a construction worker.
Adding to his problems have been the attacks - Mabu said that the May 1 stabbing was the third time he had been violently assaulted in Slovakia. "I left Angola because of the war there, we were not safe," he said. "But I think it is more dangerous for me and my family here in Slovakia "
Sayon Camara of Zebra, an organisation of African and Slovak families which aims at helping interracial marriages in Slovakia integrate into society, said that every non-white living or visiting the country faced the constant danger of violence. "Everyday we are faced with the problem of violence in society today," he said. "A main concern of ours is that even the authorities don't take the problem seriously."
Čierna agreed, saying that under communism few non-whites had ever set foot on Slovak soil. "For a long time we lived in isolation," she said. "In 1992 we first began accepting refugees and providing them with assistance. But unfortunately, negative attitudes towards different races began to increase as well."