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The charred remains of a known thief and a bag of cellphones were all that remained after angry residents handed out a death sentence.
Andile Ntsholo’s body was discovered early on Saturday morning after he had been beaten and burnt to death in Khayelitsha.
Residents say this is to send out a clear message to criminals in the area.
“The dog is dead, we will walk freely with our cellphones now,” one resident who did not want to be named says.
“We are free at last now that Andile is dead.
“He robbed me in my house and told me to sleep. He took my cellphone and left.
“He did not care if you are a neighbour or not, but now he died like a dog.
“We will get them one by one.”
Police say the deceased was out on bail relating to a robbery and theft case that was still pending in court.
Andile’s family say they knew he stole phones and was badly behaved.
His aunt Nombeko Ntsholo, 50, says the family was unaware of how bad the situation was until residents called them to the house.
“We were called by community members on Friday evening who told us they had had enough,” she tells the Daily Voice.
“They told us they did not want him in the neighbourhood anymore and that he must move out of the house.
“But he wasn’t home at the time so I apologised for him and that’s where we left it.
“So I called home on the Saturday morning at around six to check if he had been found and my nephew said ‘no’.
“Ten minutes later he called back and said Andile had been found lying on some open field nearby.
Nombeko says she was shocked to find out Andile had been killed.
“It took a few minutes for my mind to register that he was found dead,” she adds.
“When the residents called us here on Friday, they told us they were chasing him away, not that they would burn him to death.”
His uncle Vusimuzi Ntsholo, 57, says Andile had been living alone in his parents’ home after they both passed away.
“People were talking about this boy who had been burnt and I rushed to the scene because my brother’s child is naughty,” he says.
“When I got there, the fire had already been put out and he was just lying there in a frozen state.
“We immediately knew it was him.”
A resident tells the Daily Voice they want every thief to think twice about committing crime.
“We want them to see the burnt bodies and know that this will be their fate as well if they don’t stop,” he says.
“He [Andile] did not listen so this was the only way to get him to stop.”
Police spokesperson, Captain FC van Wyk says they are now on the hunt for the killers who will be charged with murder.
Khayelitsha has become notorious for vigilante killings in the past few months.
The first were the three men who were bludgeoned to death after being accused of stealing a television set in Harare.
They were killed and dumped in the sand dunes of Macassar earlier this year.
Three more men were necklaced a few weeks later in Nkanini for allegedly stealing a generator.
*This article was published in the Daily Voice