News agency, Cape Town, South Africa
Friday August 23rd 2019

Lack of policing the reason for vigilante necklacings, say residents

In the wake of the necklacing of suspected thieves in Khayelitsha, residents say a lack of police response to complaints were to blame for the brutal vigilante violence.

There have been a number of vigilante killings over the past two weeks, with two incidents of necklacing, where a tyre is placed around the victims neck and set alight with petrol.

On Thursday 15th police found the bodies of suspected thieves Luxolo Mpontshane, 25, Mabhuti Matinise, 20, and Sivuyile Rola, 28. They were allegedly kidnapped by community members and tortured for nine hours after they were suspected of stealing a plasma television set.

Then on Monday last week three men were burnt to death with tyres at Enkanini informal settlement. Only one man, Ncedile Gigi, was identified.

In the latest incident a man was necklaced at Endlovini informal settlement after he was allegedly caught stealing copper wire.

With police not responding to tip-offs – despite a national crime line initiative – residents fed up with crime say they are left with no option but to take the law into their hands.

The necklacing of three men at Enkanini last Monday came after weeks of the community being terrorized by house breakins, said residents.

“We are tired of criminals, if killing them helps to reduced crime, let it be. Police are failing to arrest them, that is why residents are taking the law into their own hands,” said Thandiwe Mazwayi, 27, from Monwabisi Park informal settlement.

Mazwayi’s opinion was echoed by a score of residents interviewed in parts of Khayelitsha where vigilante action is common.

Thembile Sonono, 39, of Monwabisi Park said last year they handed over a rapist to Harare police.

“The boy did not even reach to police station. The next day he was back here threatening people. We marched to the police station but that did not help. Police are putting our life in danger because they’re protecting criminals. We will kill them because police are failing to arrest them,” he said.

Enkanini residents said necklacing is the only solution to reduce crime as police refuse to patrol the area.

Yet vigilantism is “high on the priority list of the Western Cape police”, said provincial police spokesperson November Filander.

“We will not tolerate people to take the law into their own hands. Taking the law into your own hands, or vigilantism, is a criminal offence and these persons, if arrested, will have to face criminal charges.”

He said the police media liaison office would “not be offering a comment” on the residents’ claims that police do not respond to tip-offs and complaints about criminal activity.

“These claims need to be investigated and substantiated, and secondly SAPS will not be made a scapegoat for the actions of criminal elements within the community,” stated Filander.

Questions sent to Western Cape police commissioner Arno Lamoer’s office remained unanswered.

An average of two vigilante killings occurred in South Africa every day during the period of a 2009/2010 study conducted by the Centre for the Study of Violence and Reconciliation.

Two deaths by vigilantism made up a portion of the 46 daily murders in South Africa that occurred over the period.  – Nombulelo Damba

Tags: Arno Lamoer, Luxolo Mpontshane, Mabhuti Matinise, Monwabisi Park informal settlement, Ncedile Gigi, November Filander, Sivuyile Rola, Thandiwe Mazwayi, Thembile Sonono

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