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Pretoria - The provincial Department of Community Safety has warned against the use of mob justice in combating crime in Mamelodi East.
Last week the department, the local community police forum (CPF) and members of the Mamelodi East police station handed out pamphlets in a bid to combat crime in the area.
Provincial Community Safety spokesman Thaphelo Moiloa said they had received complaints about hijackings, theft and domestic violence in the area.
The community blamed the use of nyaope, sold for about R30, as the cause of the criminal activities.
“It has been brought to our attention that the community is unhappy that cases are reported and the suspects are freed,” he said.
“People are starting to have little confidence in the police and we thought we should undertake this exercise to encourage people to report cases to the police station.” Moiloa said it was worrying that many cases were not being reported.
A CPF member said they had undertaken to punish criminals as they were frustrated with the speedy release of suspects by the police.
“Police release the criminals when we take them to them. We no longer take them to the police station, we punish them and take them home,” she said, adding that the offenders were mostly aged between 15 and 20.
She said the offenders were whipped and given a 6pm curfew to make sure they stayed out of trouble.
The mother of one offender had commended the CPF, she claimed.
Moiloa said the community should not take the law into its own hands.
“You cannot take the law into your own hands because that is essentially mob justice. We discourage mob justice as it always has elements of criminal desire from certain individuals. If the community resorts to working as a mob, they must know that they stand to be arrested,” he said.
Phindile Zwane, a Ribane Laka High School pupil, said she was too afraid to walk on the streets, especially at night.
She said she was aware of nyaope-related thefts as addicts stole clothes even from the washing line and steel products to feed their addiction.
Petros Shabangu said he was forced to sell his minibus when the radiator was stolen in April.
He had been repairing his car when criminals broke into the garage at his fenced home. He did not report the theft to the police.
Nelson Malobola said his steel gate was stolen in February and nothing had been done by the police to recover it. He suspected it was sold to scrap dealers. He urged parents to take responsibility for the behaviour of their children.
Azzec Kheyre, a Somali shop owner, said he and his two assistants had been been attacked by criminals about two months ago.
Mamelodi police spokesman Warrant Officer Michael Mbewe referred all queries to the department.