Diepsloot community blames criminals for alleged mob justice murder

Eyewinesses told police that a small group of people found the man at his house in Dieplsoot and allegedly attacked him with stones before setting him alight.

A woman positions a burning tyre as community members protest against the rise of crime in the area in Diepsloot, South Africa, on 6 April 2022. Picture: GUILLEM SARTORIO/AFP

JOHANNESBURG - The Diepsloot community said that criminals had hijacked their protest over genuine policing concerns in their neighbourhood, allegedly killing a person in a mob justice attack.

Eyewitnesses told police that a small group of people found the man at his house in Dieplsoot and allegedly attacked him with stones before setting him alight.

The community's protest has entered a third day, while Police Minister Bheki Cele has vowed to step up security in the area to bring calm to the crime-riddled neigbourhood.

Community leader Lefa Nkala: "We don't condone this act. As we've been saying from the start, we want to do this thing in a peaceful way but criminals are taking advantage of the situation and we want to condemn that."

SPECIAL FORCES DEPLOYMENT

Newly appointed National Police Commissioner Fannie Masemola on Thursday said that further discussions with the Diepsloot community would determine how long special forces were deployed to the area.

More than 30 members of the tactical response team, over 20 from public order policing and some officials from the national intervention unit have been stationed in Diepsloot since Wednesday night after violent protests in the area.

Residents, who had been on a two-day anti-crime protest, demanded an audience with Police Minister Bheki Cele.

They pointed out that local officers were outnumbered and under-resourced, making it difficult for them to address the high levels of theft, rape and murder in the area.

Masemola touched on the incapacitated South African Police Service (SAPS) and confirmed that the number of police vehicles at the local police station had dropped drastically.

“We have heard that there were over 50 cars and they have only around six or so and we are putting extra vehicles in this area. The police will be monitoring the area until we have discussions with the community,” Masemola said.

Additional reporting by Masechaba Sefularo.