Four ‘vigilantes’ held

2013-08-12 00:00

FOUR men handed themselves over to police yesterday several hours after an alleged victim of a vigilante attack was found beaten to death in Panorama Gardens.

It is alleged that the unknown man was caught red-handed breaking into a house in the area overnight, and was “punished” by the perpetrators.

The attack prompted station commander of Mountain Rise police station, Brigadier Francis Bantham, to urge victims of crime not to take the law into their hands.

When The Witness visited the scene of the incident in Formosa Drive (off Naven Boulevard) early yesterday residents in the area said they did not know exactly how the man had died or who was responsible.

However two men, who lived close by — but declined to give their names — said they’d been told that the man was caught breaking into a house in the area.

One resident said he’d heard “shouting” in the night and seen three men walk along the road past his house. He only saw the body yesterday morning when police were already at the scene, he said.

The body, which was covered up by the authorities, lay at the roadside as police investigations proceeded at the scene.

Netcare’s Chris Botha said the victim had sustained multiple injuries.

“Netcare 911 paramedics arrived at the scene and found the man lying unresponsive on the ground. Tragically he had died before our arrival,” he said.

Bantham, confirmed that several hours after the body was found, four men had handed themselves over to police and confessed their involvement in the killing.

Details of the confession would be the subject of court proceedings, she said.

“They [the four accused] are now charged with murder. I urge people not to take the law into their own hands in these types of situations,” said Bantham.

She said police cannot and will not tolerate acts of vigilantism.

“We want to encourage the community to work with the police for a crime-free society,” she said.

“In this case it would have been so much better if this man had been handed over to the police so that he could be dealt with by the law, without resorting to violence,” she said.

Bantham said a postmortem will be carried out to determine the victim’s cause of death.

Pete Jugmohan, chairperson of the Mountain Rise Community Policing Forum, said he believes that more “visible policing” is the answer to quell vigilantism.

He said no one condones vigilante acts, but they happen because people are justifiably angry about the high crime levels in society.

“Crime levels are reaching such high proportions and people are angry.”

Jugmohan said while the population is “mushrooming”, the capacity of police stations remains the same.

He said, for example, the Mountain Rise area currently incorporates 26 informal settlements and police resources are stretched.

Neighbourhood watch systems do good work, but people also have other jobs and can’t spare the time that’s needed “every single day”, he said.

“It goes without saying that we don’t encourage vigilantism, otherwise the community will become ungovernable,”he said.

Eunice Majola, Msunduzi councillor for ward 34, incorporating Panorama, said an anonymous source told her about the alleged vigilante killing of a burglar yesterday.

“We don’t encourage the community to take the law into their hands no matter what. We understand that there is an issue with the police — that they take too long to respond [to complaints] — but we must follow proper procedures,” she said.

She urged people who succeed in apprehending criminals to hand them over to the police and let justice take its course.


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