Langa residents vowed to defend members of a local safety body following allegations of murder levelled against them.
Two members of the Langa Safety Patrol (LSP), aged 32 and 34, appeared at the Bishop Lavis Magistrates’ Court on Wednesday 11 January on murder charges.
They are believed to be part of a group that fatally assaulted Sithembele Ndutyana on Tuesday 3 January.
He was assaulted by the LSP members at the Langa Graveyard. He was accused of theft. Following the assault, he died later at Vanguard Community Health Centre in Bonteheuwel.
Following his death, two members of the LSP were arrested and were released on bail on Wednesday. They are expected to appear again on Thursday 23 February.
On Sunday 15 January, some community members met to mobilise support for the accused.
Speaking on behalf of the community, Zongamele Baliso said they are fully behind the accused. He praised the patrollers for doing a stunning job to fight crime in the area.
“The patrollers are doing a great job for the community. We are pleased with their performance in the community. And we feel safe under the protection of the LSP. People whose belongings were in the past robbed by criminals have been recovered and returned to them,” he said.
Baliso stated that they will not interfere with the police investigation, but they will do everything possible to protect the accused. “As community members, we are trying our best to ensure that the suspects get a lawyer to represent them. We have vowed that we won’t rest until the suspects are acquitted,” he said.
Langa Community Policing Forum chair Alfred Magwaca refused to comment. He said they were not “formally informed” about the incident by the police.
He said they only heard the “rumours” in the community that some LSP members were involved in the killing.
“I don’t want to comment on the LSP case because the police didn’t inform us about it. We are still waiting for the police to come and tell us what happened. We can’t comment on hearsay,” said Magwaca.
Langa Police Station spokesperson Capt Nondumiso Paul confirmed the incident. She said police were informed of the assault and they rushed the victim to the hospital where he later died.
“Two members of Langa Safety Patrol were arrested Tuesday 10 January and charged with murder. The suspects appeared at Bishop Lavis Magistrates’ Court on Wednesday 11 where they were released on R1 500 bail each,” she said.
Langa station commander Col Ronald Jacobs is appealing to those community members who were assaulted by LSP to come forward and report those cases. “The police sensitised members of the public not to take the law into their own hands because they will be prosecuted,” said Jacobs.