A terrified schoolboy has revealed how he cheated death after he miraculously escaped an attempted necklace killing.
It is the first time that someone who has endured the brutal mob justice ritual has lived to publicly tell their tale.
The self-confessed thief broke his silence in a harrowing interview with the Daily Voice.
The 17-year-old boy told how:
* He was dragged from his bed, tied up with wire
* Beaten to within an inch of his life
* Dumped in a dam before having a tyre put around his neck
* And only managed to cheat death because the mob thought he was dead.
Angry residents say the teen was left for dead after attempts to set him alight and castrate him failed.
But days after the brutal beating, the Grade 11 pupil says he is happy to let the reports of his death circulate until he escapes to the Eastern Cape to finish his schooling.
On the day of the attack, he says his attackers had told him he would soon meet his maker.
Speaking to the Daily Voice from his home, he said: “Four guys walked in and asked my mother where I was.
“They stormed into my room and demanded I get dressed quickly. One of them said today is the day that I would reveal to them the full story of why we steal things in our community.
“They demanded to know who my friends were and instructed I take them to their houses. The first slap came from a guy who was asking me about a hi-fi that was stolen from his house. I took them to the one place where I knew a DVD player and its speakers were hidden.
“After that my hands were tied at the back with a wire and I was dragged through the streets. We went from house to house searching for my friends and all the while I kept getting hit and slapped.
“When we didn’t find anything, I was told I was going to die. They took me to a dam at the back of the shacks and dumped me in there. I remember thinking how dirty the water was. I didn’t even think of how cold it was.
“A few minutes after that a tyre was put around my neck and I just went quiet. And at that point I think I went completely numb.
“Someone tried to set it alight but it wouldn’t light. I smelled petrol but I don’t know if it was poured on me or not.
“This other man said if they couldn’t kill me they would at least cut off my penis.
“As they continued to struggle with unbuttoning my pants, my neighbour came to my rescue. After that I was kicked, hit with knobkieries, metal rods and anything people could get their hands on.”
He says he must have passed out because when he awoke he was alone and managed to find his way back home.
“I’m glad to have survived,” the teen says.
The high school learner says he is eager to leave the area and start afresh with his life.
“My mom is sending me to the Eastern Cape and once I am there I will only focus on my studies,” he added.
Community members say beating unruly gangsters in their area is the only way to keep them in line.
Resident Nombasa Mba, 42, says: “A meeting had been called in the area to try and come up with a solution to help these children.
“When their parents did not come forward we took a decision to beat them to death. On Saturday we were woken by residents who called us out because they had caught a few of these boys.
“Our decision on that day was to beat them raw to make an example to others. This is what will happen to you if you continue to make our lives hell.
“We don’t like living like this, these children climb our roofs at night looking for things to steal.”
The teen’s sister says she is grateful her younger brother’s life was spared.
“He does get into trouble sometimes,” she said. “What he does is that he steals things from the house and sells them.
“He goes out all night ... and we don’t know what he gets up to at that time. So we can’t excuse his behaviour.”
* This article was published in the Daily Voice