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Cape Town - A man was beaten to death by an enraged mob in Philippi after he allegedly tried to break into a tuckshop.
Police spokesman Colonel Thembinkosi Kinana confirmed that a case of murder had been opened after a man, believed to be in his late 20s, was killed by the mob in the Samora Machel informal settlement on Saturday morning.
No arrests had been made, and police were investigating.
Although Kinana said they had still to establish the motive for the attack, residents told Weekend Argus at the scene the man, believed to be from Nyanga, had tried to break into a local tuckshop.
Later on Saturday morning the bustling streets of Samora Machel, filled with hawkers and shoppers, offered no evidence of the attack in the middle of Oliver Tambo Drive just hours before.
The victim’s blood had been washed away. Only a shred of yellow police tape tied to a pole still marked the outline of the crime scene.
Few people were willing to talk about the incident. Those who did would do so only on condition of anonymity.
They said the alleged thief had tried to break into a tuckshop, but was hunted down and beaten near a small shopping complex.
A nearby shopkeeper said that the man had been caught by the mob about 8am, then beaten with sticks and stones.
“It happens and life moves on. Things don’t stop here. Once the police have done their job and moved on, so do we.
“I closed the doors of my shop as soon it started because I didn’t want to see what was happening, then opened when the police left,” he said.
A woman selling clothing on the side of the road said she had noticed that the stones she used to keep her wares from blowing away had gone missing.
“I looked everywhere and couldn’t find them. Someone must have just taken them. When I heard about the attack I thought that they must have used the stones to beat him.”
Another man had set up his stall on the very spot where the thief was caught.
“People don’t have time to waste. Things like mob justice have become a part of our everyday lives. I still have to sell my vegetables,” he said.