South Africa

Vigilantes kill five in South Africa


Five people died in two mob justice incidents in South Africa on Wednesday. The latest deaths bring to 17 the total number of South Africans killed by vigilantes this year.


Three men were burned alive by a mob on the outskirts of Johannesburg.

They were believed to have stolen electrical cable, causing power cuts in a squatter camp.

In the Eastern Cape, two men wearing locally stolen clothes were beaten to death.

South Africa’s current annual national police report attributes five per cent of the country’s nearly 50 homicides a day to vigilantism.

It says public tolerance of crime has reached breaking point.

Police spokesman Zweli Mnisi urges the public to hand suspected criminals to police, and warns that anyone taking the law into their own hands will be prosecuted.

But researcher David Bruce of the Centre for the Study of Violence and Reconciliation says the problem is that policing services are not effective.

People from poor communities, unable to afford the army of private security companies that protect their wealthier compatriots, are the victims of as much at 80 per cent of the crimes committed in South Africa.

They often know the perpetrators and are increasingly resorting to vigilantism.

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