Durban - A triple murder and the vigilante killing of one of the alleged murderers was condemned by KwaZulu-Natal community safety MEC Willies Mchunu on Monday.
Genephi Mhlongo, 66, Angel Mthimkhulu, 26, and Chebsile Ngema were killed in their homestead in Ndundulu, near Melmoth, on Saturday.
Melmoth police spokeswoman Captain Tienkie van Vuuren said the three women were asleep in a room at the Mhlongo homestead when several men entered through an open window. They demanded money from the women, who were sellers of traditional Zulu beer.
When the older woman refused, she and the others were stabbed. Mhlongo died on the scene. The other two were taken to hospital, where they died later.
Police were called to the same area on Sunday following reports of a fight. They found locals beating two men with fists, sticks, and stones, and rescued them.
Mchunu's spokesman Sipho Khumalo said the two were admitted to hospital.
The body of a third man, identified by Van Vuuren as Sphamandla Zungu, 30, was found in a road. It appeared he had been beaten to death with sticks and stones.
Mchunu said: “Robbing and murdering of the elderly people, who should be the most valued members of our communities, is totally abhorrent and it represents the lowest decline of morals in our communities.”
He said he understood the community's anger.
“(But) it is also totally against the law for them to take the law into their hands. In fact, doing so constitutes yet another criminal act.”
Mchunu said police and officials from his department were in the area in a bid to restore calm.
It was not clear whether the two men would be charged with the women's murders.