Mob hunts down ‘killers’

2009-11-02 00:00

OUTRAGED at the murder of a member of their community, a mob of hundreds of Dambuza residents yesterday morning attacked two men with bush knives in an act of vigilantism.

The attack left the victims fighting for their lives.

Police battled to control the angry crowd, which swelled to between 300 and 500. After local police were unable to quell the mob, members from Pietermaritzburg (Loop Street) police station and the dog unit were called to Dambuza to assist.

Police spokeswoman Inspector Joey Jeevan said warning shots were fired as police tried to get the crowd to disperse. When they had scattered, police found two people lying on the ground. “They had been severely assaulted with bush knives and had serious head injuries.”

Jeevan said the attack emanated from a murder in Dam­buza on Monday night.

“Andile Sithole (24) and his girlfriend, Slindile Ntsele, were walking home at around 8 pm when two people began to harass them. The woman managed to escape and ran for help. When she returned, she found that Sithole had been stabbed in the chest and was dead.”

Sithole’s funeral took place on Saturday.

Speaking to The Witness yesterday, Ntsele said, “We were 100 metres from his house when I saw two men following us. When I told him that there were people behind us, he said, ‘A lot of robberies happen here’. Before I could say anything, one of the men snatched my bag from Andile’s hand.”

Ntsele ran to Andile’s house and told his father Bonginkosi about the robbery.

“Immediately, we rushed to the road, but when we arrived

my son was already dead; in less than five minutes, he was gone,” said Sithole.

The unemployed Sithole said Andile was the sole breadwinner in his house. “He was employed by one of the contractors working on the installation of water pipes in the area; he brought food home.”

Community members told The Witness crime is rife in the area. “We are tired of criminals making our lives a living hell when police are doing nothing. These two murderers were saved by the police; they should be dead,” said one.

The Witness heard allegations that on the night of the stabbing, one of the men beaten later by the crowd was bragging at a local tavern that they had killed someone.

“He came with a knife dripping with blood and told us they killed someone,” said one local. Soon after Sithole’s funeral, the community confronted the man who was bragging about the killing.

“We gave him a hiding and he confessed and told us who was with him. The police, who made no arrest, came before we finished them, and we know they will release these criminals,” one of the angry mob said.

Community members said they are angry with the police. “They come here when we have caught the criminals and they shoot at us and treat us like criminals. One of the officers said Cele had instructed them to shoot at us.”

A woman said one of the police officers swore at them. “He called us bitches, and told us to go home and breast-feed our babies. Why would he call us names?” The community said they have lost faith in the police.

Jeevan identified the men who were injured in yesterday’s attack as Lebohang Siya (32) and Zwandile Mfako (33). She said they were taken to Edendale Hospital in a very serious condition.

After the vigilante attack, police arrested an 18-year-old man on a charge of public violence. Two cases of attempted murder have been opened in connection with the attack on Siya and Mfako.

It is thought the mob first apprehended Siya who blamed Mfako for Sithole’s killing, so they found him and assaulted both men.

Jeevan said police cannot condone such vigilantism. “We appreciate it when members of the public assist us by giving us information, but we cannot allow people to take the law into their own hands.” She confirmed no one has been arrested or charged for Sithole’s murder.

 

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