Residents warned not to engage in vigilanty attacks

2018-01-23 06:00

Vigilantism is also a crime.

This is the response from police who are warning residents not to partake in mob justice attacks.

People found engaging in mob justice attacks could find themselves behind bars for as long as 25-years, should a court deem it fit.

Recently, social media posts were shared of a man who was reportedly beaten to death after an attempted robbery in ­Rocklands.

This follows several incidents of violence against police and emergency personnel in other parts of Mitchell’s Plain where police vehicles have also been stoned while attempting to arrest suspects.

In a recent case, Tafelsig residents demanded a suspect be handed over to them while attempting to stop his arrest in a rape case by stoning police vehicles (“‘Don’t fight like this’, Tafelsig told”, People’s Post, 5 December).

This was followed by a more recent stoning of another Tafelsig man believed to have raped another girl in Tafelsig. The man was caught by residents who allegedly pelted him with stones, leaving him battered, bruised and close to death. Residents then reportedly also attempted to stop emergency services (“Suspect ‘stoned’”, People’s Post, 16 January).

Captain Ian Williams, Mitchell’s Plain police spokesperson says charges could range from assault to attempted murder or even murder.

“Quite often the person is innocent; the attackers often have revenge motives against the person that has nothing to do with the accusation,” he says. “Sometimes it arises from conflict with neighbours and then other people are incited to attack the person; the motive by the general criminal element is that mob justice serves as fertile ground to continue crime. For example they will block the roads and then rob the motorists. In a recent case where a 50-year-old man was accused and attacked, the person was first robbed then accused.”

He adds that should the person die as a result of such attacks, a case of murder will be investigated by police even if the circumstances arise from a mob justice incident.

“There are various factors that the court will take into consideration before sentencing a person but we can say it can range up to 25 years, commonly referred to as a life sentence,” says Williams.

Police are urging residents not to take the law into their own hands.

“If the community suspects a person has committed an offence they can assist the police in confining the suspect but then must allow the police to clarify and investigate the circumstances and have access to consult with the complainant and then let the law take its just course.” V Police will host an Imbizo aimed at addressing mob violence at the Tusong Centre on Thursday 25 January from 14:00 to 17:00. All are welcome.

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