Johannesburg - Zandspruit residents blame the police for Wednesday morning’s incident in which four people accused of a spate of crimes in the area were brutally killed.
Gauteng police spokesperson Captain Kay Makhubele confirmed that four people had been killed in an apparent mob justice crime in Zandspruit near Honeydew, north-west of Johannesburg.
It is understood that around 2am on Wednesday, a resident witnessed someone trying to commit a crime.
He reportedly called for back-up, and was joined by about 200 more residents. The suspected criminal was confronted, which led him to pointing out his accomplices.
Then a group of nine young men were taken to a local sports ground in the early hours where they were beaten up by angry residents who accused them of terrorising the community.
Makhubele said five others have been rushed to hospital, adding that police were investigating cases of murder and attempted murder.
“We don’t know what they’re accusing them of exactly, but we’re going to investigate all the allegations and cases of murder,” Makhubele said.
A resident who spoke to The Star on condition of anonymity said police drag their feet every time crime, drug dealings, robbery, theft and rape incidents are reported to them.
“Police either do not come or they will respond four hours later, or even the next day,” a resident said.
Others said police often told complainants that there were no police vehicles available to attend to the complaints.
One resident went on to allege police colluded with known criminals, especially drug dealers in the area. He accused the police of being on the payroll of drug dealers.
“I once went to report a robbery in my house to the police. I was told there were no police vans and that I should come back later. On my way home, I spotted a police van parked outside the house of a known drug dealer. What were the police doing there? Obviously they are taking bribes to keep quiet,” the resident said.
A local councillor, Victor Mafinya, told eNCA that the community had lost confidence in law enforcement.
“While I do not condone what the residents have done, vigilantism and mob justice, police should shoulder the blame for what happened. Since 2018 there have been complaints about a lack of effective policing in the area,” Mafinya said.
In a statement, Russel Meiring of ER24 said their medics had arrived on the scene, a local sports field, at 8am and found the nine men “bound, lying in the middle of the field near a smouldering tyre”.
“A large gathering of community members had circled the area,” he said, adding that four men had already succumbed to their numerous burn wounds.
“Five other men were found with multiple burn wounds and were in critical condition. The men were treated before they were transported to nearby provincial hospitals.”
By Wednesday night, a strong police contingent was patrolling the area and Makhubele said they were hoping to make arrests soon.