Seven people were killed and three injured in four separate mob justice attacks within days of one another in Mpumalanga. In one of the cases, four people were burnt to death in a vehicle and in the others, they were beaten to death.
Mpumalanga Acting Police Commissioner, Major General Thulani Phahla said he was very concerned that so many cases were reported within a shot period of one another. He appealed to the community not to take the law into their own hands and to rather report crime to the police or provide information through the relevant community structures.
“Taking the law into your own hands is a crime which is punishable by law,” Phahla said.
The first incident was reported on Monday. The police were called about human remains found in a car at Troya Farm near Ga-Matimpule Village in Vaalbank.
Police spokesperson Brigadier Leonard Hlathi said the the four occupants of the vehicle, believed to be an Isuzu Club Cab, were burnt beyond recognition.
“According to information reported, it is alleged that, on Monday, four unknown men were seen stealing goats, loading them onto a white bakkie when community members spotted and tried to intercept them,” said Hlathi
“The men then reportedly fired shots at them during the commotion but they were eventually overpowered by the mob who, in the process, allegedly assaulted them before setting them alight inside their vehicle with an unknown registration number. During the shooting, one of the community members was shot in the lower body and is currently in hospital receiving medical care,” Hlathi said.
In another case, he said the police rescued a 40-year-old man from an angry mob. The man had allegedly assaulted a 34-year-old woman on Sunday at Magudu Trust near Tonga. He was arrested the same day and taken to Tonga Hospital under police guard, where he succumbed to his injuries yesterday.
Hlathi said last week, in Lydenburg, community members assaulted a man they accused of committing a crime. He too died in hospital.
He said in yet another incident, four people, aged between 18 and 46, were expected to appear on a murder charge in the Kabokweni Magistrate’s Court on Thursday. They are due to apply for bail.
“Their appearance emanates from an incident at which it is alleged that they brutally murdered a young man last week, accusing him of stealing,” Hlathi said.