Barbaric necklace returns
Zoleka Mbetheni can still hear the voices of angry Cape Flats residents demanding that her nephew, Andile Ntsholo, leave the community on Friday evening.
The next morning, she was woken by a phone call informing her that Ntsholo's lifeless and burned body had been found just a few metres from his home.
This brought to eight the number of people hounded out of their homes, stoned and necklaced in three months in Khayelitsha by residents claiming to have been let down by the police.
Ntsholo, 30, had been linked to several robberies and was out on bail.
"Many fuming residents gathered here and they told us that they were fed up with Andile's mischief and they wanted him out of the community," said Mbetheni. "But we did not expect that they would murder him so brutally. We are very disappointed as his family."
Nomlungisi Qezo, a Khayelitsha resident, said "unsatisfactory" work by the police led the community to deal with crime itself.
"My two friends were robbed of their cellphones when we were about to catch a taxi in December. We got a case number, a detective was assigned to the case, but nothing happened, only [for us] to find out this month that the case had been closed," said Qezo.
Gavin Silber, coordinator of the Social Justice Coalition, condemned the killings, but said the community no longer trusted the criminal justice system to protect it.
"We frequently see people trying to open a case at police stations and being turned away. When cases are opened, dockets go missing and they rarely end up in a conviction," said Silber.
Johan Burger, a senior crime and justice researcher at the Institute for Security Studies, said the murders should be a wake-up call for the government.
"People are losing confidence in the system," said Burger.
"I'm also worried about our society, which appears to be more inclined to revert to this kind of informal justice. You can't have a situation in which people commit all sorts of crimes on the basis of the so-called frustration with the formal structures of the state."
In November, the Social Justice Coalition asked Western Cape Premier Helen Zille to establish a commission of inquiry into the alleged failure of the police and the justice system in Khayelitsha. Zille is waiting for legal opinion on the matter.
Yesterday, police spokesman Captain Frederick van Wyk said no one had been arrested for Ntsholo's murder.
"Arrests have been made in the past and are executed on a regular basis but we find that, because huge groups are involved in these crimes, suspects are difficult to pinpoint," said Van Wyk.
Eric Ntabazalila, spokesman for the National Prosecuting Authority in Western Cape, condemned the "mob justice" killings. He said four people would appear in the Khayelitsha Magistrate's Court today in connection with the killing of three men in a separate incident.
"Khayelitsha has a very active community . in the past, members of this community would come and protest outside courts. Recently, those protests have not taken place but we hear about a suspected criminal who has been burned to death," said Ntabazalila.