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Vigilantism resurfaces

By Mogomotsi Selebi | 2012-04-05 06:58:43.0

REPEATED calls to members of the public to refrain from taking the law into their own hands are going unheeded, with another case of mob justice reported in Mpumalanga this week.

Khayelitsha township in Western Cape and New Brighton in Port Elizabeth, Eastern Cape, recently experienced a spate of these attacks.

In early March, three men were killed by "necklacing" after it was alleged they had stolen a generator from a church.

Weeks later, Luxolo Mpontshane, Mabhuti Matinise and Sivuyile Rola were "necklaced" for allegedly stealing a television set.

Necklacing is the placing of a car tyre around someone's neck, douse it with petrol and set it alight.

The latest gory incident took place on Monday in Leslie, near Ermelo, when a 30-year-old man was brutally murdered by an enraged community.

Simon Myatheni was hacked, stoned and eventually set alight by the angry mob following suspicions that he took part in the rape and murder of a local woman.

According to the police, what set the community off was the discovery by a group of schoolboys of the body of Sanja Phiri, 52, near a football field just hours before Myatheni was killed.

Police spokesman Leonard Hlathi said that after the discovery of Phiri's body, which reportedly had burn wounds on the thighs, the community went to Myatheni's house, dragged him out and assaulted him until he died.

"It has been reported that he (Myatheni), together with two other men were last seen with the woman (Phiri). It seems the community concluded that he knew what happened to the woman and proceeded to assault him.

"She had burn wounds on her thighs and it appeared as if she had been doused with an acidic substance. The suspicion is that the woman was raped and later murdered ... that is what drove the community over the edge," he said.

Myatheni seems to have died a painful death as he was attacked with "anything the community could get their hands on".

Following the attacks in Western Cape, Freedom Front Plus MP Pieter Groenewald asked Police Minister Nathi Mthethwa to intervene.

"The FF Plus will ... ask the minister which steps were taken to restore law and order and trust in the community of Khayelitsha."

Cape Town police spokesman Captain Frederick van Wyk said: "We find these cases worrying, and that is why we are always in conversations with the community not to take the matter into their own hands."