(TMU) — Sometimes, the people simply can’t wait for justice to be dispensed by the courts and cops and they’d rather take matters firmly into their own hands.
Such was the case in the South African community of Tshakhuma in the village of Muhovhoya in Limpopo province, where a massive vigilante mob brutally lynched a 39-year-old man accused of raping a mentally disabled 17-year-old girl, reports local radio station Jacaranda FM.
The man, who has been identified by police as Ndidzulafhi Tyson Makhala, was set upon by a massive group of locals who attacked him with various objects before setting him alight.
In a statement to the Independent, police spokesman Col. Moatshe Ngoepe said that the villagers sprung into action Monday immediately after the man allegedly raped the girl.
The spokesman said:
“It is alleged that the girl went to the nearby bushes to collect firewood together with other women from the village, when the deceased attacked them.
The other women managed to run away, leaving the teenage girl behind, and that’s when the deceased allegedly raped her.”
At that point, a group organized to seek out the man for his alleged crime. Ngoepe said:
“They caught him around the village and attacked him.”
“Frantic calls” were then made to the police, after which officers went to an area outside the village where they found the accused rapist’s badly burned remains.
A murder investigation has been opened, but no arrests have been made and police leaders have denounced the persistent problem of mob killings in the province, largely to no avail.
Limpopo police commissioner Lt. Gen. Nneke Ledwaba issued a statement condemning the incident and reminding the public to “respect the rule of law.”
He noted that the people should coordinate their justice-seeking efforts with the proper authorities rather than take the law into their own hands. He added:
“Those who still participate in these barbaric acts, will be dealt with harshly and without compromise.”
While the death penalty was abolished in 1995, public executions and lynch mobs are a regular occurrence in South Africa, reports AllAfrica. According to official crime statistics, a primary cause of murder in the country is “mob justice/vigilantism.” In 2018, 789 people’s lives were claimed in such incidents.
In some cases, crimes far less serious than raping a teenager are used as justification for such cases of vigilante justice. In one case reported by AllAfrica, a man was accused of stealing a mobile phone before he was caught, stripped naked, bound hand-and-foot in wire, and brutally beaten to death by his accusers.
The practice of mob justice, which involves groups as large as several hundred people taking the law into their own hands, is common not only in Africa but across much of the developing world. In many cases, a simple accusation is enough to lead to a person or people being subject to injuries or even murder.
Mob justice can also be motivated by inter-religious conflict, xenophobia or ethnic tensions, and false rumors being spread online or through word of mouth.
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