suspect dies next to FISH AND BREAD

Riot Hlatshwayo

Riot Hlatshwayo

A suspected thief, who reportedly broke into a bar lounge that doubles as a spaza shop to steal food, died after being severely assaulted by residents.

Mhala police spokesperson Constable Robert Makhubele said the police were called to Thulamahashe township in Bushbuckridge at about 4am yesterday and were told that a man had been caught stealing bread and tins of fish.

"We were told the man was still hiding in the building but when we arrived he was already dead," Makhubele said.

Residents had first contacted the owners of the bar lounge.

When they opened the lounge door it is claimed, the man fought with security guards as well as with some local residents.

"He was overpowered and eventually assaulted with an assortment of objects, including a pick, spade and stones," Makhubele said.

About 20 tins of canned fish and three loaves of bread were found next to the dead man's body.

Responding to the claim that the man might have been killed elsewhere and then taken to the bar lounge, Makhubele said: "We can neither confirm nor deny what you have heard and though we don't know how that came to your ears, it will form part of our investigation."

Makhubele said only a postmortem would reveal what had occurred.

The police said they needed to inform the man's next of kin about his death before identifying him.

Makhubele asked members of the community not to take the law into their own hands - which "was a crime on its own".

Four people were seriously injured when two vehicles collided in front of the bar lounge while the police were still attending to the dead man in the bar lounge about 10m away.