Lizette Lancaster | Vigilantism: A symptom of a violent underserviced society

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Pieces of burnt clothing belonging to the men who were beaten up and set alight on a soccer ground by a mob allegedly made up of Zandspruit residents, who accused the men of using drugs and terrorising their community. Photo: Tebogo Letsie
Pieces of burnt clothing belonging to the men who were beaten up and set alight on a soccer ground by a mob allegedly made up of Zandspruit residents, who accused the men of using drugs and terrorising their community. Photo: Tebogo Letsie

With little police accountability, murder and many types of robberies have been increasing over the past few years, leading to a growth in vigilantism. Lizette Lancaster analyses the dangers of this phenomenon.

The brutal beating and setting alight of nine young men in Johannesburg’s Zandspruit informal settlement, allegedly by a 200-strong crowd in mid-May, once again put the spotlight on the ongoing problem of vigilantism.

It was alleged that these young men had been involved in robberies and breaking into houses in the area. It has been reported that their murders were a brutal response from a community frustrated by crime and the lack of effective policing. 

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