Mhlaba Memela and Sne Masuku
A large contingent of police has been dispatched to Malangeni township on the KwaZulu-Natal South Coast to calm a volatile situation.
This follows unrest after enraged residents killed two men, who they accused of conducting a reign of terror in the community.
Police said the killings happened on Monday after a political youth meeting, but locals have rejected this, saying the meeting was called by the elders, including traditional leaders.
They said more than 500 community members and some youth became angry when crime in the area was discussed.
They allegedly demanded that anyone who knew criminals should identify them.
Three men were identified and a mob of about 2000 went to their homes and beat them up, police said .
Two died while the other one was rescued by police and is fighting for his life in hospital.
The crowd burnt down five houses in Zwelisha, New Glebe Phase One and Magwaza wards.
Police and firefighters were chased away by the angry mob.
Some policemen were stoned and assaulted. Councillor Skhumbuzo Gumede said the community held a meeting to discuss crime in the area.
Police spokesperson Vincent Pandurum said the identified suspects were linked to two recent murders and other criminal activities in the area.
In a separate incident, members of the public beat to death a man who raped an eight-year-old girl on Saturday at Wyebank, outside Durban. He had lured the girl to a soccer field from a party she had attended with her friends .
The man, whose identity is not known, was caught with his pants down raping the girl.
A witness who noticed the two slip away from the party caught the suspect raping the girl on a nearby sports field.