Johannesburg - Five alleged criminals, including a witch doctor, were killed by an enraged mob in a township on Sunday, police said, the latest act of vigilantism in a country plagued with high rates of violent crime.
The killings in Khutsong follow other flare-ups in the West Rand, a sprawling group of communities west of Johannesburg that has fallen on hard times as gold mines have closed.
Another township in the area, Bekkersdal, has been the scene of periodic riots the past few weeks by residents angry at the failure of the local government to provide services such as rubbish collection, an ominous sign for the ruling African National Congress ahead of general elections next year.
In Sunday's incident, police said in a statement that about 400 men had gathered in an open field to air their grievances about gangsters in the area and then split up into roving vigilante groups.
They first attacked a 61-year-old traditional healer, setting his house alight and burning him to death.
Two young men who the police said belonged to a criminal grouping known as the “Casanova Gang” were then set upon and also burnt to death. The group then moved to another neighbourhood, where two other alleged gangsters were stoned to death. Several people were also injured during the rampage.
“Police have increased visibility in the area. Currently the area is volatile,” the police said. - Reuters