Police condemn rise in mob justice but are powerless to stop it
Enforcers of mob justice ignore repeated warnings from police with absolute defiance, and in some instances will commit acts of vigilantism in the presence of police.
Last Friday, a 19-year-old was assaulted by angry residents at Rietvallei.
Even when police arrived on the scene, the large crowd of residents outnumbered the cops and went on assaulting the teenager. Cops on the scene said they could have been overpowered and feared for their lives.
None of the assailants were arrested.
In the latest incident, police in the area arrested two suspects, aged 21 and 32, on Tuesday after they allegedly doused a victim with petrol and set him alight following an argument.
In Swaneville, a suspect was severely assaulted with an assortment of weapons by local residents. He was later taken to the local hospital in a critical condition.
“He sustained head injuries. Police opened an assault grievous bodily harm case and launched an investigation which led to the arrest of two suspects, a 43-year-old woman and 73-year-old man,” said Kagiso police spokesperson Captain Solomon Sibiya.
The suspect died two days later after succumbing to his injuries and the suspects have been charged with murder.
Captain Sibiya said that year after year, police have had to condemn the act of taking the law into one’s own hands, but messaging has been increasingly ignored.
However, residents such as Keletso Seopa, say that the acts of vigilantism are justified when police are not doing their jobs.
“We don’t know who is failing the community, whether it is the police or the courts. As residents, we are tired of the blame game and we are going to solve our crime problems our way,” he said.
But Captain Sibiya says that no one is above the law.
“As much as the police understand the frustrations victims of crime go through, taking someone’s life cannot be a solution and will never be tolerated,” he argued.
“We will continue as police to urge and warn members of the public to refrain from resorting to inhuman, unconstitutional and cruel methods of punishing perpetrators of crime,” said Captain Sibiya.
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