| PORT ELIZABETH

Spike in vigilante killings in Port Elizabeth

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Police say communities resist investigations

Photo of a dead body
There has been a spike in brutal vigilante killings in Port Elizabeth, police have said. This unidentified man lay with his hands tied in a stormwater drain in Ramaphosa informal settlement, Motherwell. He had been burnt. (We have blurred his body) Photo: Joseph Chirume
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There has been a spike in vigilante killings in Port Elizabeth, police have said.

Motherwell police cluster spokesperson Captain Andre Beetge said: “We are not allowed to give statistics about crime. However, we have seen an increase in mob justice killings in the past few weeks, but we don’t know the reason.”

GroundUp knows of four cases reported to police between 29 July and 6 August.

In press releases, Beetge said on 29 July, Sinethemba Gwatya, 23, was beaten and burned with a tyre; on 30 July, Mandla Hashe, 29, was killed by a mob. Both murders happened in New Brighton.

A 30-year-old man was murdered by a mob in Zwide. His naked body was found in Sakhuba Street, on Wednesday morning, with his hands and feet bound with wire and a rope around his neck. He had multiple injuries due to a severe assault. His body was partially burnt. His identity is unknown.

On Tuesday, Groundup visited yet another scene of mob justice, this time in Ramaphosa. A man had been burnt to death in a stormwater drain. His hands were tied. Beetge said police did not know the name of the victim or why he was killed.

“We are tired of these criminals,” said a young woman. “They force open our doors and rape women and children. Criminals are killing innocent people … We don’t have confidence with police anymore because they have failed us. They are friends with criminals.”

Beetge said police have been blocked by angry residents from attending to the scenes of vigilante killings. He also said investigating cases was difficult, because “people don’t want to talk or to be involved. They just keep quiet”.

Motherwell Community Policing Forum chairperson Nomawethu Jama said police are understaffed and don’t have enough vehicles. “This is at the core of people’s anger. Residents view this as incompetence, yet police have logistical reasons.”

“There are a lot of unsolved cases involving rape, murder and robberies where no suspects have been arrested. People know who these criminals are but they don’t trust the police. If they hand over the names of suspects, they think they will be betrayed by police. This is why they have decided to take the law into their own hands and kill the suspects. We discourage that.”

According to a report, State of Urban Safety in South Africa Report, from the Urban Safety Reference Group, Nelson Mandela Bay Municipality has the second highest murder rate after Cape Town at 54 murders per 100,000 people per year.

Beetge said: “We have Community Policing Forums and sector managers who regularly go out to speak to communities. We also visit schools to influence youth to change their future. “

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TOPICS:  Crime Policing

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