Crime-weary residents turn to necklacing

2011-07-27 16:05

Port Elizabeth - It was one crime too many for New Brighton. Two men broke into an elderly woman's home, stole her television, and then stabbed her tenant to death when he tried to protect her.

So the next morning, neighbours tracked down the thieves, put tyres around their necks, doused them with petrol and set them ablaze.

"These boys had been causing problems in the community for a long time. They terrorised us," said one resident of the township in Port Elizabeth.

"People were shouting, emotions were high. Everything happened all at once," he said, speaking on condition of anonymity.

A grisly legacy

"I just saw tyres being put around their necks, petrol was poured and they were set alight. When they were burning people were shouting all sorts of insults and then it was done... The whole thing was so fast like in a movie."

"Necklacing" is one of the grisliest legacies of the violence that rocked South Africa's townships in the 1980s, a punishment meted out to perceived sell-outs in the fight against white-minority rule, or sometimes to common criminals convicted by "people's courts".

Since June, necklacing has re-emerged in Port Elizabeth as a new form of vigilante justice, which is common in townships where poor policing spawns deep frustrations.

"Over a period of less than two weeks, we had about six incidents of this kind," said police spokesperson Dumile Gwavu.

"In three incidents, police couldn't save the victims and in other incidents officers arrived on the scene just in time before people were killed... Several victims had petrol all over them [and] others were severely assaulted with stones."

Police cases remain open

Police statistics show that of the 46 killings committed on an average day in South Africa, 5% are the result of vigilantism.

The necklacing in New Brighton created few doubts in the community about either the guilt of the two men or the justice of their punishment. The witness who spoke to AFP said that one of the men was wearing the dead tenant's clothes.

"We report these criminals to the police. They come out the next day and commit the crimes again, so we got tired of opening cases that never go anywhere," he said.

"If the situation remains like this, then we will do this again because we got rid of the problem for good."

Gwavu said no arrests have been made in any of the necklacing cases because residents were protecting each other.

Violence ‘the only option’

"We have been having community meetings trying to explain to people that they can't take law into their hands, but so far these meetings have been tense as they (the community) are still angry and don't trust the police," he said.

According to police statistics, about 80% of violent crime happens in poor neighbourhoods, usually by people who personally know their victims.

That has helped fuel a rise in what researchers term "collective violence", said Nomfundo Mogapi, acting director at the Centre for the Study of Violence and Reconciliation.

"Our concern is that society is trying to organise themselves around violence when they feel frustrated" that the justice system is failing them, she said.

"Because of our violent history people feel violence is the only way to make politicians, officials or police to listen to their grievances," she said.

"What we see in these cases is the same pattern of violence used during the apartheid era, the burning of government buildings, stoning of police cars and barricading of roads."

  • Barry - 2011-07-27 16:12

    Vigilantism seems to be the only alternative as our Justice System has failed us.

      GTA_Lad - 2011-07-27 16:36

      Kick the tyres and light the fires!

      Eric West - 2011-07-27 16:42

      The legacy of the Mugger of the Nation!

      WiseOwl2 - 2011-07-27 16:45

      Justice - This countries justice stinks , rotten to the core.

      nic - 2011-07-27 16:48

      This quote has me in stitches for messed up reasons I guess: 'The necklacing in New Brighton created few doubts in the community about either the guilt of the two men or the justice of their punishment.' Apartheid actions in a Black suburb with a socalled apartheid name Oh the ironies of South Africa today...I would die of boredom in any other country!

      dotty_01 - 2011-07-27 16:48

      dont defend their actions. the failed justice system is a direct result of the party that THEY continually vote for and support. the previously disadvantaged need to realise that a democracy is not just about a right to make a cross on a piece of paper every 4 years. they have channels now to express themselves, but they CHOOSE to behave like savages. this country is simply a place full of people who now think that they have the right to strike, destroy, loot, murder, rape and break down the economy. it is all about TAKE, DEMAND, RAPE, CORRUPT AND STEAL with these fools.

      WiseOwl2 - 2011-07-27 16:51

      what happened to all the cops they employed to protect the TOURISTS during world cup

      peter the gr - 2011-07-27 17:02

      It was on the card already for a long time, bound to was just a question of time. . . .

      THE.SRG - 2011-07-27 20:41

      facking sick place this is.....let them be barbaric and kill each other

  • Currie_Mafia - 2011-07-27 16:13

    Shucks, we are GATVOL !!! do you hear us now ?!!!

  • Mercenary - 2011-07-27 16:17

    Listen to the people!!!!!!! Crime is a problem.........and we are all getting GATVOL.

      dotty_01 - 2011-07-27 16:50

      they listen to the people every 4 years - and they know how stupid the masses are - give them a chicken, a prepaid cell voucher or a t-shirt and the vote is secured.

  • MandlaSithole - 2011-07-27 16:18

    I'm positive that the police will be in action in catching the people that necklaced the thugs. This is the only thing that jolts them to action.

  • DW - 2011-07-27 16:23

    See the legacy that Winnie left her followers? And she is STILL walking free. Although I fully support the death of these murderers, this kind of barbaric act by the community is no better than what they did.

  • Wayne - 2011-07-27 16:24

    Wish they could do the same with the ANC!

  • Gorilla - 2011-07-27 16:25

    If it stops the crime, quite frankly I'm all for it. Can we do it in suburban cape town if we catch housebreakers?

      DEVILS SON - 2011-07-27 16:30

      just make sure the popo dont see who lit the match;)

      Feds - 2011-07-27 16:59

      What match? ;)

      DEVILS SON - 2011-07-27 17:08

      i saw nothing, i like your spirit,

      InternetMan - 2011-07-29 17:12

      White people hate each other too much to be able to pull this off.

  • apie - 2011-07-27 16:28

    That is exactly what I will do if I catch a suspicious looking bl;ack in my suburb. VIVA necklacing.

  • ChrisW - 2011-07-27 16:28

    Necklacing is barbaric but I understand the frustration of the victims. I had a burgalry on a small holding and as soon as I said I was insured I saw the policeman's shutters come down. I got info the next day where the stolen goods were. When I phoned the policeman he was not ineterested. So if I lived in a high density area and this attitude became a way of life one would think of other ways to protect ones family and goods.

      dotty_01 - 2011-07-27 16:51

      the victims no doubt voted for the party that lets crime run rampant. they do not have my sympathy.

  • DEVILS SON - 2011-07-27 16:28

    Give that angry mob a bells

      DEVILS SON - 2011-07-27 16:29

      nationalise angry mobs, amandla

      Zion - 2011-07-27 16:55

      You mean a drum full of the stuff and bought at the fuel pumps.

      DEVILS SON - 2011-07-27 17:01

      thanks to anyone who thumbs upped my call to nationalise angry mobs, you made my day hahaha wierdos

  • rogue - 2011-07-27 16:30

    On the same day that I read this article, I read that the courts have found a man guilty for asaulting the president by spilling a drink on him. We can't prosecute cases which communities report of people being murdered but we can work and process a docket where somebody spilled a drink on someone and called it asault... EISH!

      bentz5000 - 2011-07-28 11:42

      True rogue, this country is a f*cken joke.

  • StBad - 2011-07-27 16:30

    We live in a primitive society... I shake my head

      Dmitri - 2011-07-27 16:35

      An average of 46 murders a day!!!!!Which country has a higher rate? If you find it, please post it here

      Rinus Eckard - 2011-07-27 16:46

      "46 murders a day". That's good start, but of course 11m/46 is a hell of a long time to wait...

      Shazred - 2011-07-27 16:57

      The true statistics are 50 murders a day, and that is only the ones that are reported. We live in a very sad and sick country.

      ex-pat - 2011-07-27 17:54

      It's difficult to find very up-to-date statistics, and they do vary quite a lot. But the general consensus seems to be that South Africa has about 55 murders a day (and about 55 attempted murders a day!), and comes second to either Colombia or in some articles, Honduras. It used to be higher - one gave the annual number of rates for approximately ten years ago, which I divided by 365 and was shocked to read the answer: 88. PER DAY. Various articles did say that South Africa consistently has the highest rate of baby and child rape in the world.

  • Jarryd - 2011-07-27 16:35

    Its tough to critisize the people when they seemingly have come up with a more efficient solution to their problems which their government can't/hasn't dealt with.

      Slapper - 2011-07-27 16:38

      Agreed, A savage act, caused by an incompetent Government/Justice system/Police force.

      dotty_01 - 2011-07-27 16:54

      wouldn't a more efficient solution be to vote for another party? i was under the impression during the 1980's that the PEOPLE wanted a democracy? or am i mistaken? because the way they behave 21 years after their hero was released from jail suggests otherwise? democracy is a two way street and all i see are fools thinking that this is their time to TAKE and DEMAND until there is nothing left.

  • BraBob - 2011-07-27 16:36

    Because we spend money to prosecute somebody for spilling a drink on JZ... If the courts did what they were supposed to, the people would not have to do what the courts are supposed to do

  • nvl - 2011-07-27 16:41

    I AM gatvol!!

  • Cat Woman - 2011-07-27 16:44

    I do not think any of you have been afraid of no I do not condone this I am tired of the SAP not having vehicles getting to the crime areas. This use to be the norm many years ago. And maybe now people shall be afraid and once again become law abiding citzens. Have respect for the elderly as well.

  • Douglas Hendry - 2011-07-27 16:45

    It's a good alternative to hanging. No delays, no appeals, no "human rights" squealers.

      InternetMan - 2011-07-29 17:19

      Its just too easy to shout "human rights" these days. SO someone will always do it. Mob justice for the win.

  • firefox0007 - 2011-07-27 16:45


      DEVILS SON - 2011-07-27 17:02

      the only reason the police exist now days is so i can get the case number to report a bumber bashing, otherwise i deal with my own kak

  • concerned - 2011-07-27 16:46

    pictureof, your comments are out of order, by the way i have a black neigbour (ANC) and could not wish for a better neighbour.

  • Tawney - 2011-07-27 16:49

    "of the 46 killings committed on an average day in South Africa" REPORTED killings... Wonder what the real number is?

  • Mnr. Smith - 2011-07-27 16:50

    Once a barbarian, always a barbarian!

  • whitey - 2011-07-27 16:50

    Justice System! What Justice System?

  • gallus - 2011-07-27 16:51

    That is known as the "legacy of the struggle". But, seriously, it is a symptom of a failed state when the people take the law into their own hands because the state fails in its duty to provide the safety and security for which the people pay tax. If the police do not help you, you must help yourself. The ANC government should take note. Remember what Thoma Hobbes wrote about a state without law and order - the citizen's life is "nasty, brutish and short".

  • SirMark - 2011-07-27 16:54

    well done , two ANC voters less .

  • v3 - 2011-07-27 16:56

    Nothing like confidence in Generalissimo Cele and his force.

  • The Question - 2011-07-27 16:57

    I'm sorry but why do so many bloggers commenting on these type of news stories always praise community members for choosing to take the life of an alleged criminal? ALL human life is sacred and we have no right to willing choose to take one whenever we feel frustrated or angry... two wrongs don't make a right... and to do so makes us no better than the evil we're meant to be stopping in the name of justice... I will always choose a life over something like vengeance, pride, ego, material possessions, etc.... and I will always be willing to stand up and fight those who show such a blatant disregard for a person's life. If people like to complain about the Police not being able to address their issues, how does pulling much needed Police personnel away from other investigations to deal with such vigilante actions help matters? Police officers aren’t machines or superhuman... they can’t be everywhere at once... yet this is exactly how we treat them. If you think crime is getting out of hand in your area, help the already over-worked and thinly stretched police force... help be a part of the solution and not part of the problem.

      InternetMan - 2011-07-29 17:21

      So to sum up your wall of text: You support the harassment of the elderly.

      The Question - 2011-07-31 13:54

      To sum up my wall of text and your ignorance InternetMan.... I fight crime as a neighbourhood watch patrol officer and I do so legally and without the use of excessive violence. I support the Police rather than work against them. I do not support those who think a human life is worthless the moment they commit a crime and do not support anyone who thinks the evil actions people commit in the name of 'justice' is something that should be praised or condoned....

  • gwskywatcher - 2011-07-27 17:07

    Take the hint - bring back the death penalty. At least we'll do things in an orderly manner.

  • Beast - 2011-07-27 17:12

    Vigilante justice occur when the Police can't do their job.

  • jock - 2011-07-27 17:19

    crime is everywhere but the barbaric act of necklacing or stoning seems to be very popular in South Africa.Catch the criminals and hand them over to the police and dont act like animals

  • Tc - 2011-07-27 17:20

    No confidence in Cele's police-troops!

  • birdman - 2011-07-27 17:32

    They don't even care that they are causing air pollution with the thick smoke from the burning tyres - have they no sense of saving the ecology?

      InternetMan - 2011-07-29 17:22

      I dont even fully believe that global warming is real but i support your concern more than the "human rights" hippies./

  • unrealchris - 2011-07-27 17:34

    Well the courts do nothing, the police do nothing, you got to get your own protection. If I find anybody in my house, I'll shoot and go and dump the bodies, no need to involve the courts or the police I say.

  • eradingoana - 2011-07-27 18:06

    I think this is one thing the ANC have to encourage as well like following up the Shoot the boer song. It used is and therefore it cannot be thrown away as well. Necklacing is for the struggle. Cele should not intervene because they are now enjoying the freedom apple. Viva Necklacing, it is democracy of the ANC.

  • Thabo - 2011-07-27 18:22

    Racism rules in news24 and the disturbing thing is that, people who post these racist remarks are not blocked from this site, or their comments removed.

      Dominic - 2011-07-27 19:31

      Freedom of speech may be difficult to stomach at times but it gives us the opportunity to voice our opinions and equally it gives those who disagree with us an opportunity to argue their case and the opportunity to change or at least understand our attitude. So though I dislike racism @Thabo, I don't believe people should be blocked or their comments removed.

  • PHL - 2011-07-27 18:30

    i will donate some petrol and NEW tyres!!

  • eddiedaveymusician - 2011-07-27 19:57

    Mr Mandela once told Mr DE Klerk once: 'You have the power your hands, stop the violence' (paraphrased). When it is NOW expected from the ANC, who has the power in it shands, to do the same and stop crime, they still blame Apartheid and cannot protect the country or even themselves! Please explain... Were many things not better during Apartheid?: less crime ... better services ... more justice ... better schools ... better hospitals ... cleaner water ... fewer potholes ... less corrupton ....... What is really better since 1994? Eddie, Pretoria

      InternetMan - 2011-07-29 17:24

      You are the minority. Get that through your thick racist skull.

  • Die B@@$ - 2011-07-28 09:09

    I've got 12 tyres up for sale. 3 got a few ventilation holes due to potholes, but lot of rubber left. Get the biggest tyre and put the goverment in there and stop most of the corruption and thievery.

  • bentz5000 - 2011-07-28 11:46

    Necklace system works, our justice system is a bad joke.

  • errol.wagner - 2012-01-02 12:57

    There is no need for special studies - what is needed is an efficient and honest police force and a justice system that punishes criminals - until you sort these things out you will not stop the public taking the law into their own hands. The solution is simply, no need to do research for Masters and Doctoral degrees.

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