Mpumalanga MEC for Community Safety, Security and Liaison Vusi Shongwe has condemned the incidents reported by SAPS, where seven people were killed allegedly by a mob in separate cases in Mjejane near Komatipoort, Marite, in Bushbuckridge and Lydenburg this week.
Shongwe says that although the work of community patrol teams is greatly appreciated, people should refrain from taking the law into their own hands.
Among the victims, two were found laying in the pool of blood after allegedly being assaulted by the mob, where they sustained multiple injuries. Their lifeless bodies were discovered at Mjejane (Hectorspruit) near Komatipoort on Thursday at around 11.30am.
A 28-year-old victim's body was found with multiple injuries in Marite at Ga-Bhereni village near Bushbuckridge, not far from a tavern.
The victim is suspected to have been attacked by some community members. Stones, bricks, as well as sticks were also found next to the victim's body. Preliminary investigation by the police suggest that the victim might have been killed by a mob as well.
In Lydenburg, a 33-year-old victim succumbed to injuries upon arrival at the hospital on Wednesday evening at around 7pm. Allegations are that he was also severely assaulted by a group of people at the Lydenburg Taxi Rank.
On Thursday night, the police in Komatipoort responded to another mob justice incident at Mjejane, where three people were burnt to death by some members of the public, and their vehicle, as well as a trailer were set alight.
Mpumalanga Provincial SAPS spokesperson Colonel Donald Mdhluli said police are trying to establish whether this incident is not related to the one where two victims were killed in the same area earlier that day.
Mdhluli said SAPS encourages community members to report any criminal activity to the authorities or utilise community based structures like Community Police Forum (CPF) and the Community In Blue, which seek to bridge the gap between the community and the police.
‘’We appreciate the effort of communities in assisting the police to fight and prevent crime. However, communities must report crime and also act as informants because they are not trained to apprehend crime suspects. Taking the law into their own hands is a criminal offence, and those who engage in mob justice are liable for prosecution,’’ said Shongwe.
He urged communities to continue working with the police by providing information that may lead to the arrest of crime suspects.
‘’We have the CPF structures. Therefore, people must work with the police through these structures in order to prevent crime. All forums that participate in crime prevention must do so within the ambit of the law,’’ Shongwe said.