A shack with broken doors and shattered windows is all that remains in Sondela near Rustenburg. Occupants of this shack were kidnapped and burnt to death in an apparent ethnic battle between Basotho and Xhosas. Photo: Mathaeo Lonkokile/African News Agency (ANA)

Rustenburg - People in Sondela informal settlement about 7km outside Rustenburg in North West live in fear following the murder of 11 people over the past week. 

"We do not sleep at night, we sit on chairs waiting to see what the night brings, others sleep at the garage fearing for their lives. 

"People are moving out of this place. They move out under the cover of darkness as they do not want to be seen as fleeing. We cannot move out because we have nowhere to go," said a woman who did not want to be identified for her safety. 

She said when the night falls the area becomes scary. "We do not feel safe, the police do not enter this area, they are also scared. Soldiers should be deployed here," she said. 

Grisly cellphone pictures on social network show three men, one lying face down with a burnt tyre around his neck and another on his back with a tyre around his neck a third man is draped in a blanket and lies face down with a tyre around his neck. There is a stick next to his body.

Sondela informal settlement is home to people from various ethnic groups. They have been living together peacefully until what appears to be ethnic killings flared in August 2018 when a Sotho man and a Xhosa man fought over a girlfriend. 

A group of Xhosa speaking men allegedly broke doors and windows of houses in Sondela, Rustenburg in North West and kidnapped occupants. They were found murdered. At least 11 people have been killed following clashes between Basotho and Xhosa. Six people have been arrested. Picture: Mathaeo Lonkokile/African News Agency (ANA)


The Xhosa allegedly stabbed the Sotho man and he was admitted to hospital.

A few days late the Xhosa man went to watch a soccer match and a group of Basotho men beat him up.

Ever since, people have been found dead in the informal settlement, apparently in reprisal killings. 

On 17 November, a group of Xhosa men went to a house where they found a Sotho who was living with his brother in a room he rented on the property.

They claimed to be carrying out raids in search of dangerous weapons. They allegedly broke into the house and found a firearm. The landlord allegedly rented it out. 

They demanded to know where the landlord was and when he could not tell them, they allegedly beat with hammers and forced him to take them to his brother.

They beat the brothers, smashing their heads with hammers and then dragged out of the house to an opened veld where they allegedly set them alight. 

By 24 November, six people were found dead in different areas of Sondela. Some were stabbed and others were burnt. 

On  November 24, Basotho men armed with axes, spears and pangas stormed into houses, breaking windows and doors. They allegedly kidnapped four men and a woman.

Three men and a woman were founded dead, burnt with tyres and another man was stabbed in the neck with a sharp object. His nose was nose was cut off.

The police swooped on the area and arrested six people. Two of them have appeared in court and the other four will appear in court on Friday. 

They were due to bring a formal bail application at the Rustenburg Magistrate's Court on 7 December.

The police say that they are expecting to arrest more people in connection with the killings. 

In 2015, Sondela made news headline when five teenagers were necklaced (putting a burning tyre around the neck) for allegedly killing a 30-year-old man. 

A video of the incident went viral, showing how the boys screamed as they burnt. 

African News Agency/ANA