Students torture and kill 'thief' in mob justice attack

Image: GALLO IMAGES

A picture of a suspected thief, circulated at the University of Venda in Limpopo, may have sparked a mob justice attack that claimed his life.

The man in his 20s, who was suspected of being behind a spate of criminal activities on campus, was caught and beaten by a group of people in the early hours of Friday.

Univen spokesperson Dr Takalani Dzaga confirmed that the man was a "wanted suspect on campus after many students' valuables such as laptops and cellphones were stolen and his picture was circulated on campus".

"First, we would like to condemn the mob attack, which resulted in a person dying.

"However, we have confirmed with our protection services through surveillance cameras that it is the same man who the university has been looking for," said Dzaga.

Dzaga said the institution had not opened criminal cases against the man who was not a student at the university.

"We are also investigating how the man got access into the varsity since he was not an enrolled student. We are in a process of implementing an improved security system on our entrance and exit gate.

"We will be installing a facial recognition security system to avoid this kind of incident," said Dzaga.

In a video clip that went viral on social media, the man can be heard groaning from a severe ear injury and other wounds on his body, while some of the mob poured what seemed to be water on him.

"This is what Univen students did to a thief. You should never mess with Univen students, you mess with them, they do this. This is just a lesson nothing more, nothing personal. Just look at the ear, Univen students are dangerous guys," a man can be heard saying in the video.

Police spokesperson Brig Motlafela Mojapelo said the police responded to frantic calls by community members about a person being assaulted by a group of people.

"On arrival, police discovered a body of a man with multiple injuries and assortment of objects like stones and sticks next to him," he said.

Mojapelo said the group had already dispersed.

Univen's student representative council secretary Yanda Mxaku also confirmed that the man was linked to a spate of crimes on campus.

"He is a well-known criminal and was spotted on campus. How did this man gain entrance to the campus? We are going to write a memorandum to the university management regarding the weakness of security," he said.

Mojapelo said the man has not been identified and the investigation continues.

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