Cape Town - The spate of mob justice killings in Khayelitsha, Cape Town, was directly linked to the traumatic experiences of residents, an expert suggested on Thursday.

“When we are raped it's extremely humiliating to our sense of identity,” trauma expert Pumla Gobodo-Madikizela told the Khayelitsha Commission of Inquiry.

“When the experience is shared by... a community the identity of the group is formed by the shared experience of trauma.”

She interviewed several residents during vigilante-style killings in the area over the past few years.

Gobodo-Madikizela seemed to confirm police assertions that mob justice killings were spur of the moment incidents, and not planned.

“A person is killed within a matter of seconds or minutes,” she said.

The killing of suspected criminals was different to the necklacings of police informers in the 1980s. Necklacing involves forcing a car tyre doused with petrol over a person's head and setting it on fire.

“ 1/8Then 3/8 people seemed to mull things over. There wasn't this suddenness of what's happening in Khayelitsha,” Gobodo-Madikizela said.

Thursday was the penultimate day of testimony in the commission, chaired by retired Constitutional Court judge Kate O'Regan.

The commission was set up by Western Cape premier Helen Zille after NGO the Social Justice Coalition complained that police inefficiency was the reason for mob killings becoming more prevalent in the area.

Sapa