Mob beats thief to death

2011-01-25 00:00

AN appeal to people to refrain from taking the law into their own hands seems to have fallen on deaf ears in Pietermaritzburg.

Mob justice led to the killing of a housebreaking suspect in Smero, Edendale, yesterday morning. An accomplice of the dead man is fighting for his life in Edendale Hospital.

The killing happened within two months after residents of Taylor’s Halt, which is about 30 km from Smero, stabbed and hacked Velaphi Zwane to death on December 4. Locals claim Zwane had stabbed his wife several times in a full view of his neighbours and his two children.

Following the Taylor’s Halt murder, police spokesperson Warrant Officer Joey Jeevan issued an appeal that people should report crimes to police rather than kill the suspects.

Yesterday about 20 people punched, kicked and sjambokked the two men, after Christopher Bafana Thusi (55) arrived home at about 10 am to find the pair stealing his belongings.

“When I returned home I saw these two men busy taking things over the fence of my yard.

“When they saw me they ran into the bush. I alerted community members, who gave chase. After about 15 minutes they were caught and brought back into the house where they were assaulted,” said Thusi.

The suspects allegedly entered Thusi’s outside room after breaking a window.

They also stole from the main house where they again broke a window.

The naked body of the deceased, with only the groin covered, lay under a tree from the time of the killing until about 4 pm yesterday. The injured suspect was taken to hospital shortly after being assaulted.

The residents who apparently participated in the fatal assault showed no remorse as they talked and laughed. They said housebreakings and muggingsin broad daylight have become common in the area.

“In December last year my neighbour had to abandon his house after criminals broke in and stole almost all his belongings,” said Thusi.

Jeevan said the injured suspect is under police guard in hospital. She said police are investigating circumstances of the killing.

“We know that people are frustrated about crime, but we are still appealing to them not to take the law into their own hands.”

Smero is the same area where an off-duty police officer, Constable Njabulo Mahlaba (30), was shot om the neck before he and his girlfriend were robbed of their wallets and cellphones on Friday night. His two attackers, a 21- and 28-year-old, were arrested on Sunday night.

Last year The Witness reported that there was on average one mob justice murder a month between July and December in greater Pietermaritzburg.

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