Frenzied mob murder

2010-12-06 00:00

POLICE have urged community members not to take revenge on criminals, following yet another frenzied vigilante mob murder of a man who had just stabbed his wife to death at Taylor’s Halt on Saturday.

This is the fourth vigilante-related death in three weeks in the Pietermaritzburg area.

Domestic worker Cynthia Zwane (52) had just arrived home from work after 5 pm when she found her estranged husband Velaphi (60) sitting in her home.

Police spokesperson Warrant Officer Joey Jeevan said the two had experienced marital problems and had split up.

Her six children, aged between 11 and 30, were also at home.

Jeevan said Velaphi confronted his wife as she arrived and stabbed her in the neck. She ran outside screaming, attracting the attention of neighbours and the community. Velaphi chased her, stabbing her in the back and in other parts of her body. She died at the scene.

Community members caught Velaphi and beat and stabbed him repeatedly. Jeevan

Then someone fetched an axe and his head was hacked until he died in the street.

Only then did anyone contact the police.

“Two cases of murder have been opened, one for the wife and one for the husband. No arrests have been made,” said Jeevan.

She urged people to contact the police if a crime has been committed and to let the law take its course.

She cited an example from the weekend where the community worked with the police and an alleged murderer was arrested.

“In Caluza on Friday night 23-year-old Nkululeko Radebe was robbed of his wallet and cellphone and stabbed to death as he walked home from work. The next morning police received information that the suspect had gone to his grandmother’s home to get money to aid his escape.”

Stemming from this tip-off, police from the Plessislaer task team led by Captain Zithulele Dladla went to the house and arrested a 19-year-old man, who will appear in court for Radebe’s murder.

“The community must communicate with the police to help arrest suspects who will then be dealt with by the courts.”

In the past three weeks the following incidents of vigilantism have been also been reported by The Witness. 

Commenting on the phenomenon of mob justice, psychologist Akashni Maharaj said in some communities there is a sense of disillusionment with the justice system and bringing criminals to book, coupled with a sense of helplessness that yet another criminal could get away with a terrible crime.

The despair leads to a collective feeling of responsibility to make the community safe and make a difference.

She said that especially in very tight communities, people would get together and share the responsibility for a crime, which also gives them a sense of power.

“There is individual helplessness, but together they get strength in numbers. Individually, it’s wrong legally, socially and morally, but as a collective it’s seen as okay. It’s not an individual morality but a community morality. If they get together they have a sense of purpose and feel empowered and there is less chance that they will get caught, as the police can’t arrest 100 people for a murder.

“It’s a very twisted way of looking at it, but it is rational.”

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