South Africa: Eight Suspects Arrested for the Brutal Killing of Two Brothers in a Mob Justice Attack

press release

The Police at Rakgoadi outside Groblersdal have arrested eight (08) suspects (four men and four women) in connection with the brutal murder of two siblings at Letebejane Village during an apparent mob justice incident yesterday afternoon, 27 January 2020 at about 17:00. The suspects were arrested in the early hours of this morning at about 04h00.

According to the preliminary police investigations, the brutal attacks followed an incident that occurred last year on 13 June 2019 when a 23-year-old man, Peter "Mapito" Phathlamohlaka, allegedly disappeared while fishing in the Olifants River (Lepelle) with the two brothers Lukas Seloma aged 46 and Willem aged 47, together with another group of men. The Police were notified about the incident and a search operation by the Search and Rescue Team was conducted without a success.

A missing person file was then opened and Police continued with their investigations and search operation. Two weeks ago, on 13 January 2020, when the Police were busy with their investigations, the local community members mobilised and attacked the two brothers at their homes. This followed after they accused them of being involved in the disappearance of the missing man.

The Public Order Police Unit (POP) was activated and the situation was stabilised. A case of assault GBH was opened and no one was arrested. Police continued with the tracing of the suspects.

On Thursday, 23 January 2020, the community gathered again and went on a rampage by barricading the streets and removing learners from the schools, demanding that the two brothers inform them about the whereabouts of Phahlamohlaka.

The unrest continued until last night, when community members allegedly dragged the brothers to the nearby mountain and stoned them to death.

Police and the medical emergency services were called following a tip-off and responded quickly. A police helicopter was also called. On arrival at the scene, they made the gruesome discovery of the two bodies covered with tree branches. They apparently wanted to torch them. The crowd had dispersed.

The Public Order Police Unit (POP) members have been deployed in the area to monitor the situation.

The suspects aged between 19 and 44, are expected to appear in Motetema Magistrate's Court on Thursday, 30 January 2020, facing two counts of murder and public violence.

The Provincial Commissioner of the South African Police Service in Limpopo, Lieutenant General Nneke Ledwaba, has condemned in the strongest possible terms, the brutal killing of the two brothers and has warned that the police will be relentless in pursuit of any remaining suspects.

"The Police will continue to deal mercilessly with each and every person who resorts to taking the law into their own hands, concluded General Nneke Ledwaba."

Police are appealing to anyone with information that could lead to the arrest of the remaining suspects involved in this matter, to contact Detective Warrant Officer Malose Mothokoa on 060 996 0066 or the Crime Stop number 08600 10111 or the nearest police station.

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