DURBAN - A man was allegedly killed for killing a six-year-old boy in KwaZulu-Natal on Christmas Day.
Police spokesperson Colonel Thembeka Mbele said at 11pm on December 25, Verulam police received a complaint of a house fire at the Tandani area in Verulam, north of Durban, and they went to the scene. When they arrived, they found the body of a six-year-old boy.
“It is alleged by the complainant that her 25-year-old ex-boyfriend burnt down her shack with her son in it after he had an argument with her current boyfriend. The victim was burnt beyond recognition. The matter was reported to the police, and an inquest docket was opened for investigation,” Mbele said.
“On December 26, 2021, at 12am, the angry community located the ex-boyfriend and they allegedly set him alight. He sustained burn wounds on the body and was confirmed dead at the scene. Two cases of murder and arson were opened at Verulam for further investigation.”
Mbele urged the community not to take the law into their own hands and let police continue doing their job by investigating and arresting the suspects involved in criminal activities. “The community must ensure that they work with police by providing information. The community members who continue to commit such acts will face the might of the law.”
On Tuesday morning, KZN Social Development MEC Nonhlanhla Khoza called for vigorous action against the violation of children’s rights in the province after three child abuse cases were reported on Christmas Day.
A 16-year-old orphaned girl from Mtubatuba was chained for days without food, a six-year-old was burnt to death by his mother's boyfriend in Verulam, and a three-year-old was rescued by police after her mother dangled her from the fifth-floor window of a flat.
“It is heartbreaking to learn about a child who was burnt to death in a shack by his mother's boyfriend in Verulam. This heartless man opted to burn a shack with a child inside while the mother had gone to the neighbour's house,” Khoza said.
At the time of the incident, Reaction Unit South Africa spokesperson Prem Balram said the man who killed the boy after setting their informal home alight was murdered by the community.
They had responded to the area after receiving reports that a man was beaten to death and set alight by the community.
“On arrival, reaction officers entered the informal area when the partially naked body of a male was discovered in the burnt remains of the informal home,” Balram said.
He said residents alleged that the suspect had an altercation with his girlfriend on Christmas afternoon before he stormed out of the wood and iron dwelling. His partner opted to spend the night at a neighbour’s house while her son attended a Christmas function with her sister. The woman was unaware that the child returned and was in the house alone when her boyfriend returned later the same evening and set their home on fire. He then fled the scene.
Balram said the community went in search of him. After locating him in the Chubbies Garage area, they returned to the scene where he allegedly admitted to setting the house alight. He committed to rebuilding the home and replacing the damaged goods. Community members then began sifting through the debris when they located the child burnt beyond recognition.
“The mob became enraged and began assaulting the man before they set him alight,” Balram said.