Naked and dead in the dirt

Photo by Masixole Feni.

Masixole Feni and Ashleigh Furlong

7 September 2015

The man was almost naked. He had burn marks on his arms. There was a sock on one of his feet and he lay facedown in the dirt. He was found dead in Mfuleni this morning after what appeared to be an act of mob justice.

Neighbours said that the man had been caught in possession of a crowbar by people from another area. The identity of the man is unknown.

Bonolo Sengoats, whose house is next to where the man was found, was one of the first people on the scene. He was alerted to the burnt man’s body by his neighbour at 5am. Sengoats said that the man was already dead when he went outside. “His hands were tied behind his back.”

Sengoats was not sure if the body had been burnt elsewhere but GroundUp’s photographer observed that there were no signs of the body having been burnt on the scene. Another bystander said that there were pieces of burnt clothing further up the road.

Sengoats said that the police had been called when the man’s body was discovered but that they only arrived about an hour after this.

A police officer who was at the scene, but did not want to be named, said that it was often frustrating for the police in Mfuleni as they only had one police van to use between three areas – Mfuleni, Blue Downs and West Bank.

In July, in neighbouring Khayelitsha, one man was killed and another two seriously injured, in an alleged incident of mob justice. Also in July, two men were found killed and burnt in Heideveld in what also appeared to be acts of mob justice.

The problem of mob justice was highlighted at the Khayelitsha commission of inquiry into policing last year.