Johannesburg - Angered by the rise of gangsterism in Daveyton, some residents in the township east of Joburg necklaced an alleged member of a gang terrorising the community.
On Wednesday, an enraged mob stormed the Unity Secondary School, disrupting classes as they searched for a pupil suspected of being part of the gang.
“They dragged the suspected gang member into the schoolyard and forced him to identify a pupil whom they believe is part of the group,” said Fanele Sonti, a community member who witnessed the incident.
When the alleged gangster failed to find the learner, he tried to escape, but was apprehended by the community and severely beaten in full view of students and teachers.
Sonti said the boy was then dragged to an open field about 500 metres from the school and necklaced.
He suffered severe burns and is recovering in hospital.
Sonti said the gang had been a nuisance for almost two years.
“People are tired. They have lost confidence in the police. We can’t walk in the streets freely any more. The boys own the streets.”
Gauteng MEC for Education Panyaza Lesufi on Friday visited the school, flanked by MEC for Community Safety Sizakele Nkosi-Malobane.
Lesufi appealed for restraint and called on members of the community to refrain from disrupting schooling and taking the law into their hands. “Schools are centres of teaching and learning. They should be treated as such,” he said.
Unity Secondary was one of the best performing schools in Gauteng and should not be surrendered to criminals.
“This is our crème de la crème. The community prefers this school. We can’t let criminals take over. If this school does not perform well, our overall performance will be affected.”
Lesufi urged the community to take ownership of the school to ensure that it “remained at its best”.
He said the department would rather spend its budget on hiring more teachers and improving the learning conditions instead of hiring armed security guards.
“We need to ensure our schools are conducive for safer learning.
"I believe the law enforcement agencies will move with speed to arrest perpetrators.”
He added that the department would provide counselling for teachers and pupils.
Nkosi-Malobane said three people involved in the incident were arrested, while six more are still at large. She said six boys were wrongfully linked to the gang while they were innocent. The incident, she said, was prompted by the rape of a 13-year-old girl.
Three years ago the community of Etwatwa, also in Ekurhuleni, established a vigilante group to hunt down members of the OVL gang that was committing horrendous crimes, including rape and murder.