Crime is unbearable all over South Africa, but it is even worse in the slums or squatter camps where rape, robbery and murder are the highest. In other communities, there are even some other form of security measures in place, for instance, community policing forums. A lot has been said about what we should do or not do in order to lessen chances of being victims of crimes. But all those tips prove futile when ever criminals pounce on us, rattle our homes and leave us all shuddering with fear or seething with anger, for the rest of our lives.
But in other communities , particularly squatter camps-mob justice rules. Here, a mob would be formed with a blink of an eye because most men are unemployed. This would be men possessed with anger, hate and also resentment, men who feel that the government doesn’t care about them at all, and that they should solve their problems on their own. What happens is, community members would meet to raise concerns about the rampant crime taking place around. From there suspects would be singled out, and in most cases foreigners or disheveled nyaope addicts would be considered suspects. The victims are either burned alive or stoned to death.
I remember how in Khutsong community members set alight a 61 year old man for being suspected of supplying criminals with muti. Victims of mob justice are killed for allegedly committing a crime, and in most cases, without any shred of proof-while the police are present watching.
This morning, my colleague related another case of a boy who was caught by his neighbour trying to sneak in her house in Tembisa. According to my friend, this poor boy who is also a nyaope addict was beaten to a pulp. People kicked him, others threw bricks at him and another angry man even stroke him hard with a steal on his head. And for what? For only being suspected of trying to steal. I say the boy was lucky because an ambulance was called in for him, and he was quickly rushed to the hospital, hopefully he survives.
I agree that petty criminals can be troubling, but taking the law into our own hands is an unforgivable sin. Vigilante killings and mob justice are both serious crimes. And those committing such crimes should be brought to book. This continuing form of injustice reveals our high level of intolerance for incompetence and also our mistrust of the police. It goes on to reveal how South Africans hate being victims of crime. But how can we prevent being victims of crime by perpetrating another crime?