Johannesburg - Two men accused of killing a pair of siblings aged six and seven were on Thursday morning burnt to death after their houses were torched in Nelspruit in what police said was a possible revenge attack.
"Two men were burned to death and their houses torched in an apparent act of vigilantism, during the early hours of this morning at Mganduzweni, Masoyi near White River," said Brigadier Leonard Hlathi, from the office of the provincial police commissioner in Mpumalanga.
"This incident is suspected to be a retaliation by the community following the murder of two siblings aged six and seven whose bodies were discovered yesterday morning in a ditch, in the same area."
Narrating events on Thursday that led to the mob attack, Hlathi said the trouble began when a 24-year-old man was forcibly taken from his house by a mob.
"He was then forced to lead the mob to the house of the second victim, a 36-year-old pastor. Upon arrival they forcefully grabbed him out and burned both of them alive as well as the house."
The brigadier said police believe the "mob justice" may have been fueled by rumours doing the rounds suggesting that the young siblings may have had certain body parts removed.
"Police would like to put the record straight that a preliminary investigation conducted at the scene, there were no such missing body parts. Members of the community are further urged to refrain from reckless rumour mongering which may have adverse repercussions when coming to sensitive matters like this one," said Hlathi.
"Other information suggest that a sangoma may have been consulted who in turn pointed towards the two slain men as being the ones responsible for the siblings’ demise.
"People are requested to bring such information to the relevant authorities instead, as opposed to going on the rampage attacking and killing people."
Hlathi said despite an engagement that took place between the police and members of the community soon after the discovery of the young girls’ bodies, members of the community proceeded to take the law into their hands.
"They were unreservedly requested to forward any information that could lead to the arrest of the children’s murderers ... police management is disappointed by the conduct of certain members of the community," said the brigadier.
He said anyone with information that may assist police in the investigation of both incidents is urged to contact Captain Timothy Mushwana on his cellphone: 082 449 0223.
Mpumalanga police provincial commissioner, Lieutenant General Mondli Zuma, warned: “Vigilantism will not be tolerated nor accepted as a way of dealing with crime, anyone found to have participated in such acts, will be arrested and face the full might of the law”.
African News Agency (ANA)