Cape Town - Masiphumelele is now a boiling cauldron of resentment, with vigilantes allegedly beating and shooting one man to death and then beating and burning another and leaving him seriously injured during a rampage through the township on Sunday night.
Last week, a man accused of killing a 14-year-old boy was burnt to death by angry residents who then stoned and torched a police vehicle.
Police spokeswoman Constable Noloyiso Rwexana confirmed that residents had attacked two men. It is understood one man was beaten, then shot dead, and another beaten, burnt and left seriously injured.
“According to reports, at about 7pm a hundred residents of Masiphumelele apprehended two men, aged 25 and 34. It was later reported that a 34-year-old was fatally wounded, while the other one was seriously injured.”
Rwexana said the circumstances surrounding the incidents were being investigated but police did not know the motive at this stage. She added that cases of murder and attempted murder were under investigation, and no one had been arrested.
Angry residents also set up a barricade of burning tyres across a road, making it difficult for police to get into the area.
Community Police Forum’s Kathy Cronje said the community’s frustration was understandable but mob justice was not acceptable.
“The frustration in the community has been brewing for a long time now, but they can’t just kill people. Mob justice is not the answer.”
She said the community is trying to get rid of all drug dealers and that the man who was killed had been warned to leave the area, but decided to come back on Sunday. This angered the community, leading to the vigilante attack.
Resident David Sithole said the community was tired of crime and that the same thing kept on happening over and over.
“The problem is that the same thing keeps on happening, and when criminals are arrested they always get released and come back to the community. We don’t feel safe at all, you can’t even walk on the streets.”
Another resident, Mzuvukile Nikelo, said the police were not doing nearly enough about the high levels of crime.
“The community was not expecting crime to continue after they burnt and killed the man who killed the 14-year-old boy. But instead, people are still getting robbed, people’s houses still broken into. The community saw that the criminals were not shaken by their actions.”
He said the residents had also gone door to door visiting known drug dealers, but on that occasion no one was assaulted.
Acting provincial police commissioner Major-General Thembisile Patekile said police had held talks with the community.
“We have engaged the community on numerous occasions and we can’t take lawlessness. We are going to intensify and deploy more personnel in the area until the situation has stabilised.”
Patekile said they were treating the mob justice incidents as crimes.