Man burnt to death for stealing a cellphone
3 February 2021
For the second time in a month a man was killed in mob justice in Powerline informal settlement, Port Elizabeth.
Residents said they called the police on both occasions who took over an hour to respond, when it was already too late.
On Tuesday vigilante violence in Powerline informal settlement, Motherwell, claimed another life. For the second time in a month, a suspected criminal was beaten and then set alight. The victim was accused of stealing a cellphone and some money.
A resident, who did not wish to be identified, said the man had pleaded for his life and “returned the cellphone he had stolen to its owner”. He said “he would repay the money”.
“I felt sorry for him. How could he get killed for stealing a cellphone?” she said. “I blame the police for failing to come in time to rescue him.”
“What message does this send to our children? Do you think violence will end in this country when young people are exposed to it? There are still remains of ashes of a man who was burned a couple of weeks ago outside the gate of the same school and children always look at it with sadness,” she said.
A witness said he called the police when he saw the man being dragged to Nxanelwimfundo Primary School. “I was assured by the person who responded to the call that they were swiftly dispatching a van. I then went to do my errands satisfied that the police were coming to save the man,” he said.
“I returned after about an hour and I was told by people who were coming from the scene that the man had been burnt. Still there was no sign of a police van.”
He said that next time he would not bother to call the police as it had been “a waste of my money and time”.
Another resident said some weeks ago at about 6pm “a child came running to me saying there was a man being beaten”. She said she called the police. The police arrived after 7pm. The man had already been burnt. He had been accused of “breaking into people’s shacks”.
“People are living in perpetual fear of these mobs and they have lost confidence with the police,” said a resident.
Police spokesperson, Captain Andre Beetge did not respond to our questions.