Teenage ‘thief’ necklaced

ct Necklacing 8557 INLSA CRIME SCENE: Community members including young children watch as a police forensic team removed the charred body of 18-year-old Sukhumzi Mawu from the Siqalo Informal Settlement, Samora Machel yesterday. Mawu was necklaced, allegedly by community members. Photo: Brenton Geach

Barbara Maregele

RELATIVES of a teenager accused of theft watched as he was dragged out of his home by a group of alleged community members who beat and necklaced him.

Sukhumzi Mawu, 18, was taken from his home in Siqalo Informal Settlement in Samora Machel at about 5pm on Saturday. He was beaten and set alight around 9pm.

Residents had allegedly found stolen goods in his room.

Police spokesman Andre Traut said no arrests had yet been made. “We are still investigating the circumstances surrounding the man’s death. We will not allow the public to take the law into their own hands, and we will treat those who do as common criminals,” he said.

Mawu’s aunt, Thembakazi Ngombane, described how she felt helpless watching the mob attack Mawu.

ct Necklacing 590 GRIEVING: Sukhumzi Mawus mother Thandi Mawu. INLSA

“I was at home when his four-year-old brother called to to come see what was happening to his brother. When I got to my sister’s house, there were so many people standing outside saying that he stole their things. I asked him why he did it, then they took him away,” she said.

Ngombane said the group took him at 5pm and continued to beat him until he was necklaced four hours later.

“I could see that his body was already weak by the time they took him up to the road and put a burning tyre on him. I could hear him crying and screaming and I felt bad, but there was nothing I could do about it,” she said.

Yesterday morning, Mawu’s charred body could still be seen lying beside a pile of dirt while residents watched police clear the remains.

His mother, Thandi Mawu, chose not to visit the scene where her son’s body was found. She sat in a shack, with her son’s birth certificate lying on the floor.

Neighbours gathered outside as she described how she was saddened by the death of her son, whom she described as “troublesome”.

Speaking through an interpreter, Mawu said her son had stolen a number of items from their shack over the past eight year. “I think he started using drugs in 2004. He stole our TV, DVD and clothes. When I gave him money to buy something at the shops, he wouldn’t come back. They found those people’s things in his room, so I can’t do anything,” she said.

“I feel sad, but now I can fetch my daughter. She was living with her father’s family because she didn’t want to live with (Mawu) anymore. Their father died last year and whenever I went to fetch my grant money, he (Mawu) would demand the money. I didn’t know what to do,” she said.

A community member who asked to remain anonymous said residents became frustrated by theft in the area. “People knew it was him because they found the things on him, so they beat him,” she said.

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