THE WILD west approach of "shooting to kill", which cost two young men their lives when police allegedly shot them dead during tavern raids near Nelspruit, has now resulted in mob violence.
The raids, which took place in Matsulu last Friday night, saw the community retaliate on Wednesday evening.
They blocked roads, threw stones at buses and trucks and burnt tyres to show their frustration after the deaths of two men on Friday.
The community also set fire to a police van.
Nearly 50 people are said to have sustained multiple injuries when the police, estimated to be 40 strong, burst into the taverns shortly after 10pm on Friday, eyewitnesses claim.
An assistant at the Phefeni tavern, Mandla Sibiya, told Sowetan that when the police arrived they first assaulted the DJ and then destroyed liquor bottles by hurling them to the floor.
"They forced the DJ to switch off the music and started assaulting him. They started kicking and assaulting everyone without any provocation," Sibiya said yesterday.
He said the police then took money as well as cellphones from patrons before one of them poured liquor into s womsn's private parts.
Nombiso Mnqinaclaimed that a female police officer unzipped her jeans, took a full and "very cold" bottle of beer and poured into her private parts.
"That was the coldest feeling I ever experienced down there. I haven't seen police behaving that way in my entire life."
Another patron, Dick Fakude, said the police left after failing to force the tavern owner to close before the midnight deadline - but returned hardly an hour later.
"That was when all hell broke loose. They started firing at us and when they had finished, many people were lying on the ground."
Boy Nkosi, the father of 27-year-old Hanhla Nkosi, one of the people who died in hospital after the shooting, said he was called to the scene by a friend of his son.
"I thought he had been shot by criminals but when I arrived . police tried to force me to go home, despite my explanation that my son had been shot."
Mpumalanga police spokesman Captain Klaas Maluka confirmed the "incident" but said he could not comment since the Independent Complaints Directorate was probing the matter.