Spike in vigilante killings in Port Elizabeth - says the police

2019-08-07 21:55
(Getty Images)

(Getty Images)

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There has been a spike in vigilante killings in Port Elizabeth, say the police.

Motherwell police cluster spokesperson Captain Andre Beetge said: "We are not allowed to give statistics about crime. However, we have seen an increase in mob justice killings in the past few weeks, but we don't know the reason why."

GroundUp knows of four cases reported to the police between July 29 and August 6.

In a media releases, Beetge said on July 29, Sinethemba Gwatya, 23, was beaten and burned with a flaming tyre; while on July 30, Mandla Hashe, 29, was killed by a mob. Both murders happened in New Brighton.

On Wednesday, a 30-year-old man was murdered by a mob in Zwide. His naked body was found in Sakhuba Street, with his hands and feet bound with wire and a rope around his neck. He had suffered multiple injuries and his body was partially burned. His identity is unknown.

On Tuesday, Groundup visited yet another scene of mob justice, this time in Ramaphosa. A man had been burned to death in a stormwater drain. He hands were tied.

Beetge said the police did not know the name of the victim or why he was killed.

"We are tired of these criminals," said a young woman. "They force open our doors and rape women and children. Criminals are killing innocent people… We don't have confidence in the police anymore because they have failed us. They are friends with criminals."

Beetge said the police have been blocked by angry residents from attending to the scenes of vigilante killings. He added investigating the cases was difficult because "people don't want to talk or be involved - they just keep quiet".

Motherwell community policing forum chairperson Nomawethu Jama said the police were understaffed and do not have enough vehicles.

"This is at the core of people's anger. Residents view this as incompetence, yet the police have logistical reasons.

"There are a lot of unsolved cases involving rape, murder and robberies for which no suspects have been arrested. People know who these criminals are but they don't trust the police. If they hand over the names of suspects, they think they will be betrayed by the police. This is why they have decided to take the law into their own hands and kill the suspects. We discourage that."

According to the State of Urban Safety in South Africa Report from the Urban Safety Reference Group, Nelson Mandela Bay Municipality had the second highest murder rate after Cape Town at 54 murders per 100 000 people a year.

Beetge said: "We have community policing forums and sector managers who regularly go out to speak to communities. We also visit schools to influence the youth to change their future."

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