2 men set alight by community: "Mob Justice is not our fault" - SAPS

By Drum Digital
28 February 2017

In yet another act of vigilantism, two men were set alight by community members at Phase 1, Freedom Park in Phokeng, in the North West.

According to the police, the victims were attempting to steal a vehicle, but after being seen by members of the community they were doused with petrol and set alight in an act of mob justice.

A 44-year-old man was arrested yesterday in connection with the crime and will appear in Phokeng Magistrates’ Court today.

The incident took place on Sunday. On the same day, two men were also set alight by community members in Limpopo on suspicion of abducting a 17-year-old girl.

Mob justice has also been reported in Rosettenville in Johannesburg as well as in the City of  Tshwane as citizens take matters into their own hands.

Foreign nationals have been on the receiving end of mob justice as communities complain the police are failing to do their job in apprehending criminals involved in drug dealing and prostitution.

SAPS spokesperson, Vishnu Naidoo says police cannot be blamed for mob justice and those who take matters into their own hands are criminals.

“The effectiveness of the criminal justice system should be measured by the number of criminals we have in our prisons, this is a result of police work and our justice system,” he says.

However, Johan Burger from the Crime and Justice division at the Institute of Security Studies says people have lost faith in Government and the police.

“About 65 % of murders in the country are a result of social neglect and a general feeling of hopelessness by people who feel the police and Government are not visible enough to respond their complaints,” he says.

Burger says mob justice exists mainly in communities that are struggling with service delivery and people take the law into their hands to get the attention of Government.

However, he says a vicious cycle is emerging.

“They don’t realise that they are murderers and that they will be arrested and prosecuted because they have a sense that what they are doing is justified,” he says.

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