In a gruesome example of mob justice gone mad, angry residents of KwaMashu's K Section in Durban yesterday took the law into their own hands and snatched two suspected serial rapists from police custody and beat them to death.
The enraged mob beat, stoned and hacked the men to pieces in an orgy of blood and body parts that appalled hardened crime scene specialists.
The two men, both in their late 20s, were allegedly members of a four-man gang that had raped about 50 people in the past month. Residents of KwaMashu had spent the past three nights hunting for them.
The two men's alleged rape and crime spree ended when a lone policewoman single-handedly arrested them at noon yesterday. She put them in a police car, but they never reached the police station.
Their arrest came after a woman who said she had been raped by the gang recognised one of her alleged attackers and fainted.
When three other police officers arrived on the scene, an angry crowd of more than 200 people dragged the two men out of the police car and attacked them with pangas, bricks, knives and bottles. A police officer was injured when splinters of glass hit him in the eye.
The alleged rapists were beaten for 20 minutes.
Women who claimed they were raped by the gang said the men would break into their houses at night and demand money and cellphones before forcing family members to have sex with each other and then rape the women themselves.
An 18-year-old boy said one of the rapists had broken into his home last Sunday night, pointed a gun at him and demanded money and cellphones.
"When I couldn't give him what he wanted, he went into my sister's bedroom, where she was sleeping with my brother's girlfriend.
"He forced everyone to sit in the lounge, pointed a gun at me and forced me to have sex with my brother's girlfriend," he said.
Captain Gugu Sabela, a police spokesman, said no one had been arrested for the two men's deaths.
She said before the men were killed, they were on the way to show the police where they had kept their guns hidden.
Two other alleged gang members are still on the run.