Khayelitsha mob rule raises fears
A Cape Flats community that has taken the law into its own hands and necklaced criminals has been branded as a bloodthirsty pack of murderers.
On Saturday, police came across the charred remains of an unidentified man in Makhaza, Khayelitsha. The man, it has been said, died at the hands of an angry mob who accused him of theft.
His death brings to nine the number of people who have been brutally murdered in vigilante attacks in Khayelitsha this year.
However, community leader and ANC councillor Andile Lili, who rose to prominence when he condemned unenclosed toilets in Makhaza, said this was but the tip of the iceberg. He said while this type of attack occurred constantly, reports of them seldom reached the media.
He said criminals were brazen enough to boast about their escapades when they returned from prison and even adopted nicknames such as "Killer".
"The justice system is not assisting this community. Criminals get arrested and then they come back and do the very same things for which they were arrested.
"This leads the community to take the law into their own hands and when this happens police end up going after the community instead of the criminals," said Lili.
"I've tried to reason with them but I have realised that, although I'm their leader now, I'll soon turn into their enemy."
While Lili said the attacks were not orchestrated, Community Safety MEC Dan Plato said that, in some instances, they were.
"It is becoming a common phenomenon in Khayelitsha and, to some extent, it's orchestrated as well," said Plato.
"The fact is that [the community] are now killers themselves. At the end of the day, police need to conduct a thorough investigation, find these perpetrators and bring them to book.
"One wants to urge community leaders as well, to condemn vigilante killings in the strongest possible terms."
Zweli Mnisi, spokesman for Police Minister Nathi Mthethwa, said the police had pleaded with Khayelitsha residents to stop the killings and to work with the police instead.
"We condemn such acts because they are not helping in the fight against crime. People have raised issues - one of them is that police take longer to respond and that there is no cooperation between society and police. But we are saying continuously murdering people based on the kangaroo courts ... we will never allow this," said Mnisi.
He said the police would bring to book officers who did not do their work. But first they would need to investigate.
Mnisi singled out Khayelitsha as a hot spot but last month nine men were sentenced to 15 years' imprisonment for their role in the murder of a man accused of stealing a cellphone in Du Noon.
Police spokesman Captain FC van Wyk said: "We will not allow the community to take the law into their own hands; we cannot allow the public to be punishing suspected criminals."
Makhaza residents would not be drawn on the weekend's killing.