‘Mob jus­tice vic­tims ter­rorised com­mu­nity’

Lim­popo com­mu­nity says the men were re­spon­si­ble for var­i­ous crimes

African Times - - Front Page - MOYAHABO MABEBA

Two al­leged thieves were as­saulted and thrown into a deep wa­ter hole

A Lim­popo com­mu­nity says the men were re­spon­si­ble for var­i­ous crimes, in­clud­ing theft of plasma TV screens

Po­lice vow to deal harshly with per­pe­tra­tors of mob jus­tice

TWO sus­pected thieves who were se­verely as­saulted and thrown into a wa­ter hole in an ap­par­ent case of mob jus­tice have been de­scribed by lo­cals in Lim­popo as feared crim­i­nals re­spon­si­ble for a string of house break­ings and the theft of plasma TV screens.

Lo­cals in Mo­letjie out­side Polok­wane said the men have been ter­ror­is­ing the com­mu­nity for far too long, by com­mit­ting all man­ner of crimes to feed their nyaope ad­dic­tion.

This comes af­ter com­mu­nity mem­bers as­saulted the “thugs” at Diteteng Vil­lage be­fore they were res­cued by the po­lice and paramedics in a deep wa­ter hole. The blood­ied men, from the nearby Ga-Ma­bil­wane Vil­lage, were rushed to an undis­closed hospi­tal for med­i­cal treat­ment last week.

When African Times vis­ited the area on Mon­day, spine-chill­ing tales of rad­i­cal­ism were echoed among res­i­dents of Ga-Ma­bil­wane who de­scribed the men as bar­bar­ians who have launched a reign of terror with im­punity.

How­ever, even though some were will­ing to shed some light, no one was at ease to talk about the men for fear of in­tim­i­da­tion.

Upon ar­rival at the head­woman’s house, she too was re­luc­tant to do the in­ter­view but man­aged to sum­mon her sub­jects who promptly re­sponded to the siren.

It was clear as day­light that even grown men and women were scared of these two boys.

They re­fused to di­vulge their name and even claimed that they don’t know any­thing re­gard­ing the harrowing event even though the in­ci­dent is widely known.

How­ever, one mid­dle-age woman, who opted to speak on con­di­tion of anonymity, be­gun by ask­ing a rhetor­i­cal ques­tion: “Who does not fear those two ras­cals? They have been ha­rass­ing peo­ple for way too long and they know no one can chal­lenge them. They are armed and harm­ful.”

Her sen­ti­ments were echoed by Brian Meso at a lo­cal drink­ing joint who said, “We sus­pect that these guys have been steal­ing Plasma tele­vi­sion sets. Word has it that there is a pow­der in­side the TV which they mix it with nyaope and smoke it. They are known thugs and I tell you, no­body wants to talk about their crim­i­nal deeds. They are ca­pa­ble of com­mit­ting even the heinous crimes you could ever imag­ine. It’s just a pity that this time around they met peo­ple who didn’t fear them.”

Po­lice say peo­ple who par­tic­i­pate in ram­pant mobs acts are try­ing to turn Lim­popo into a ba­nana prov­ince by re­sort­ing to vi­o­lence. This by as­sault­ing and killing peo­ple sus­pected of crime, in­clud­ing the de­struc­tion of prop­er­ties be­long­ing to sus­pects.

De­spite stern warn­ing and con­dem­na­tion of these vi­o­lent acts, com­mu­nity mem­bers re­main res­o­lute that they will deal harshly with crim­i­nals.

A mem­ber of the Com­mu­nity Polic­ing Fo­rum (CPF) in Blood River out­side Seshego, Al­bert Masingi said, “As CPF, our duty is to bro­ker har­mony be­tween our re­spec­tive com­mu­ni­ties and the po­lice. How­ever, we of­ten find our­selves be­tween two ex­treme sit­u­a­tions when peo­ple in our neigh­bour­hoods say they have lost con­fi­dence in the po­lice ser­vice, ef­fec­tively tak­ing the law into their own hands. Truth is: crime has spi­ralled out of con­trol and po­lice some­times have their hands full.”

Spokesper­son for the Lim­popo pro­vin­cial po­lice, Brigadier Mot­lafela Mo­japelo says, “We con­demn in the strong­est pos­si­ble terms the seem­ingly per­sis­tent in­ci­dents of mob jus­tice that have be­come preva­lent in some parts of the prov­ince. We are ap­peal­ing to com­mu­nity mem­bers to re­port crime in­stead of tak­ing the law into their own hands as such acts of mob jus­tice also make them crim­i­nals.”

Mo­japelo could not dis­close the name of the hospi­tal were the as­saulted men were taken to for med­i­cal treat­ment, say­ing, “We can­not di­vulge their where­abouts as we fear that the peo­ple who as­saulted them can go to the hospi­tal to fin­ish where they have left off.”

In a state­ment ear­lier, Mo­japelo said: “In what could be re­garded as the most in­hu­mane and bar­baric in­ci­dent, the com­mu­nity of Mo­letjie Diteteng spot­ted two men from the ad­ja­cent vil­lage of ga-Ma­biloane roam­ing the streets in the com­pany of a per­son they sus­pected of be­ing re­spon­si­ble for the spate of thefts of Plasma TV screens in their area and started mo­bi­liz­ing. They then grabbed the two men, started se­verely as­sault­ing them and later threw them into old wa­ter deep (hole) that was used to sup­ply wa­ter to the lo­cal com­mu­nity. The po­lice were alerted and re­acted swiftly and on ar­rival, the two vic­tims could still be spot­ted from the deep hole

He warned that per­pe­tra­tors of vig­i­lan­tism and mob jus­tice” will be dealt with mer­ci­lessly”.

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