DNA delays mob justice victim's funeral

Image: 123RF/ Shawn Hempel

The family of a man who was mistaken for a bag snatcher and burnt to death is frustrated that it has to wait for weeks before they can bury him.

Police said the delay was due to pending DNA results.

Rethabile Sematle, 27, from Chris Hani in Daveyton on the East Rand, was wrongfully accused of snatching a woman's bag in Qalabusha informal settlement on May 12. He was brutally assaulted and necklaced.

Police spokesperson Lt-Col Kesivan Chittiah said the body has not been released due to pending DNA results and asked for the family to be patient.

"This was not a normal death. Analysis must be done thoroughly to make sure the body is conclusively identified as he was burnt beyond recognition," he said.

Chittiah said there had not been any arrests yet but the police were working around the clock to find the perpetrators.

Sematle's aunt, Lebogang Choshane, said the family has been traumatised by the delay.

"This situation has become an unending nightmare and we need his remains so we can bury him and get closure."

Choshane said Sematle's parents have taken mental strain as a result and they have not received any counselling.

She said the police have not engaged with the family and it does not know whether the perpetrators have been found or not.

"We want to lay Rethabile to rest because he has suffered enough.

"Although we will be burying only few parts of his body because he was terribly burnt, we feel he still deserves a dignified burial because he was a breadwinner and humble member of our family," she said.

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