Bloemfontein Courant last week looked into allegations that Neil Sonnekus, one of two men assaulted at a fuel station convenience store in Bloemfontein in March, is the owner of Cherry Online. Sonnekus denied this. "No, that is not true at all. I am just employed by the company," he told Courant. He said he is the main web developer for Cherry Online.
The controversial company is embroiled in the multi-million rand Free State government website saga. An article on the website www.2oceansvibe.com reported that Sonnekus owns the company. Comments relating to an article on the website www.mambaonline.com allege that Sonnekus is involved in a "scam" to draw attention away from government website deal and recoup money. A poster named "castle" wrote: "Why will the cop, and he was not on duty, sommer *(hit) the poor *(gay guys)? They must have done something to him. Is it a scam or what does it look like? Why did he not hit the black guy that bumped into him? Rumours are running Cherry *(Online) lost a 4 mil government contract due corruption, now they want to try to make money that way."
An excerpt from a post by "OMW" reads: "This Neil Sonnekus is currently involved in a dispute relating to 40 mil which government paid his company ‘Cherry Online Design’…
"Is it not odd that three days after incident at a convenience store this person’s company was on all the media networks hated by all tax payers as it’s seen as fraud? Now an opportunity arose for them to see if they could make a quick buck as they are maybe not sure of their jobs?" Sonnekus and his brother Eben were assaulted in a Bloemfontein fuel station convenience store at the beginning of March, allegedly by Gauteng police officer Christoffel Neuhoff. The assault was captured on CCTV footage and a video clip can be viewed at www.ofm.co.za.
Sonnekus says allegations that he and his brother provoked Neuhoff are unfounded. He claims he, his brother and a friend were waiting for their food order when the suspect asked what they were doing there. He says he told the suspect they were waiting for a food order. "He then asked why we haven’t paid and I said because we haven’t received our food yet. The next moment he suddenly just hit me," he said. Sonnekus meanwhile has still not returned to work. He says he has been booked off by a neuro-surgeon until 27 April due to swelling and injuries to his brain.
Neuhoff, a sergeant with the Boipatong Crime Prevention Unit, was arrested last month on charges of assault with intent to do grievous bodily harm. He is currently out on R500 bail and is due back in court on 13 May.
He previously declined an opportunity to comment to the media on the case.
*Profanities replaced with words conveying the same meaning