24 February 2014

South Africa: Stumbling Across Vigilante Violence

Yet another vigilante incident took place in Endlovini, Khayelitsha, at 5pm on 20 February on the open field at the corner of Mew Way and Steve Biko Road.

A man aged about 20 was caught stealing a cell phone. People GroundUp spoke to said he was known as a thief and that he had broken into many peoples' homes previously. He was beaten with a sjambok. Fearing for her son, the man's mother called the police.

When GroundUp arrived on the scene, officers of the SAPS were already negotiating with the crowd of about 50 people and trying to calm down the angry residents.

With an uneasy truce established, the ropes tying the man's hands behind his back were cut. He was left standing silently in the middle of the crowd, waiting for his mother.

His body was covered in lacerations. His shirt was bloodied and dirt was clinging to the bloody marks on his arms and legs. His face was swollen and bleeding,

Roughly half of the crowd were young children, some as young as five. One child, apparently unphased by the violence, was playing marbles in the sand, a few feet from the man who had been assaulted.

SAPS officers at the scene say the man was lucky. Had they not arrived, he would most likely have been killed by the crowd.

The police then tried to identify the complainant whose cell phone had been stolen in order to arrest the young man for theft. No mention was made of arresting any residents for assault.

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