Horror of a mob murder
Johannesburg Surrounded by a jeering mob, 26-year-old Farai
Kujirichita was bludgeoned to death in Diepsloot, his horrifying final
moments captured on a video that thrust South Africa's violence back
into the international spotlight.
The full footage, obtained by City Press from a freelance journalist, has never been released
in South Africa, but made headlines in one of the world’s most
Kujirichita was still alive when a man in a white cap methodically destroyed his face and skull with a heavy wooden plank.
was probably dead or dying when another man grasped his belt and
punched him repeatedly in the groin and a grinning teenage girl raised a
large chunk of cement above her head.
Kujirichita's "crime" was that he was a Zimbabwean in the wrong place at the wrong time.
murder in January this year in Diepsloot - a community of 150 000 in
northern Johannesburg, where instances of mob violence are commonplace
and growing ever more so - was quickly forgotten.
It would have
remained that way but for a New York Times Magazine cover story last
weekend and the grainy cellphone video of his final moments, excerpts
from which were published for the first time on the paper's website.
article appeared just days after UN special rapporteur on
the human rights of migrants, Jorge Bustamante, highlighted xenophobic
attacks in South Africa and called on the government to implement more
stringent hate crime legislation.
The story of Kujirichita's killing
made international headlines last week, including in newspapers in
Zimbabwe, Taiwan and New Zealand.
In Diepsloot, the killings continued.
Two weeks ago, two Zimbabweans were kicked and beaten to death after being accused of robbery.
In another incident, a suspected thief narrowly escaped with his life when police
arrived just in time to prevent a mob from killing him, an incident
witnessed by a City Press reporter.
"The police should have given
him to us. We know what to do with people like him. We will continue to
kill tsotsis," resident Johannah Mofokeng said as police drove away.
get called out all the time," Diepsloot police station spokesperson
Daniel Mavimbela said.
"People here take the law into their
All too often "foreigners" are the targets of their rage.
The wife of one of the five people arrested for the double killings, Tswanelo
Ndlovu, says Zimbabweans are to blame for crime in Diepsloot. She offers no evidence to support her claim.
these people don't even live here. They come at night to rob us and
terrorise our neighbours, and we will not stand for that," she said.
how she could know beyond doubt that someone accused of a crime was
guilty, she said: "I trust what my neighbour tells me and what other
people I know say."
Freelance journalist Golden Mtika witnessed Kujirichita's murder and, at great risk to himself, captured the mob frenzy
on a cellphone camera.
"I have witnessed more than 300 mob
justice cases, but that one is the scariest. I still can't believe that I
shot that video," said Mtika.
Even children have become desensitised to the violence around them, Mtika said.
"They could be playing soccer on a field and there would be a dead body next to them and they wouldn’t be bothered."
Residents "don’t ask questions" when someone is accused of a crime.
justice is the people's way of dealing with criminals because they
don't feel protected by the police. It is so common that people get
necklaced almost every week."
Mtika is haunted by the images of Kujirichita being kicked in the face and sjambokked, his features eventually
reduced to a bloody, unrecognisable pulp. "It's hard for me to look at
the video," he says.
The attack took place on January 22.
by a 15-year-old boy, a mob of residents searching for "criminals" had
begun torching shacks and a caravan, and soon encountered Kujirichita
talking on his phone.
"He told them he was South African but they
snatched his phone away from him, looked at the numbers on the phone
and realised that he was actually from Zimbabwe.
"So they started beating him for telling a lie."
The mob tried to force him to throw himself in a fire.
"He couldn't do that so he tried to run away but they caught him and started beating him like a dog.
It was a shame watching him die like that,” said Mtika.
A 15-year-old boy and a 17-year-old girl are the only suspects facing trial for Kujirichita’s murder.
They will appear in the Atteridgeville Regional Court tomorrow.
The three main assailants seen in the video were never arrested.