Mob justice rules
THREE people were brutally killed this week at the hands of angry mobs - one a housebreaker allegedly slain by students.
On Friday, two alleged whoonga addicts suspected of being involved in petty crimes such as house burglaries and pick pocketing, were slain by a bloodthirsty group at Mevamhlope.
Councillor for Ward 31, Sipho Ntombela, said by the time he arrived at the scene, the two men were already dead.
‘From what I understand, they were beaten to death with stones, sjamboks and sticks.’
Ntombela said according to his knowledge the mob suspected the men of being involved in criminal activity and dispensed instant justice.
Empangeni Station Commander, Brigadier Jeros Thango, said five people were arrested and were to appear in the Ngwelezana Magistrate’s Court.
In a separate incident, one person was allegedly killed by students in the early hours of Tuesday morning in the KwaDlangezwa area after reportedly being caught while committing a burglary at Msomi Cottages.‘The particulars of the deceased are not known at this stage as the investigation into the case is ongoing.‘Students attacked and beat him to death.‘No arrests have been made,’ said King Cetshwayo Cluster Police spokesperson, Captain Mbongeni Mdlalose.
Brigadier Thango condemned the incidents at the highest level.
‘People must stop taking laws into their own hands, because really, they are not assisting us by doing so.
‘If they are looking for someone believed to have committed a certain offence, they need to call the police to handle the matter.
‘This is not the way things are meant to be done in our country,’ said Thango.
His sentiments were expressed against a background of mob justice becoming an increasingly worrying issue for police, not only within this region but also at a national level.
According to the recently released national crime statistics 264 people were murdered in mob justice attacks in Gauteng alone between April last year and March this year, and 849 people were killed in similar incidents across the country.
Mob justice is nothing new
Head of the Criminal Justice Department at the University of Zululand, Professor Johan Ras, said mob justice is something that has been happening in the country for decades.
‘It is as old as mankind because it is based on people’s perceptions of what is right and wrong for them in the now, not on a delayed court-system that maybe one day will look at the matter.
‘The criminal justice system is a process of administration that takes lots of time and people do not feel satisfied with that.
‘Immediate irritated members want lex taliones justice, an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth.
‘That is constitutionally totally wrong but it brings emotional comfort for those that feel they were victimised.
‘The bigger issue is this: government represents people with different belief systems but the dominant ruling party’s views on the way we raise our children (no corporal punishment) and how we punish people (no death penalty) has created a situation where most parents and public members know that something is wrong.
‘Those with less education are quick to retaliate because they vent their frustration through fists, sticks and knives, not through a lengthy criminal justice system that they do not understand.’
Ras said the police, through the community policing forums as well as private security, must continue to behave in a constitutionally-ethical manner and constantly educate people so that they report matters.
‘The police will always assist – if you do not get joy, take it up higher,’ he said.