CAPE TOWN, South Africa – A mob has taken the law into its hands, killing a man alleged to have raped and murdered 6-year-old Ayabukwa “Nhathi” Mhlahlo in Mdantsane, Eastern Cape, last week.
Social media posts had alleged the victim was a suspect in Ayabukwa’s brutal rape and slaying last Tuesday. Her body had been left by the side of a road in the township, 15km from East London.
According to Eastern Cape police spokesperson Khaya Tonjeni, Zone 8 residents allegedly beat the man, believed to be in his 20s, to death, who had tried in vain to flee from the angry mob.
“Senior police management in the Eastern Cape have strongly condemned acts of vigilantism which led to the murder of a man in Mdantsane.
“It is alleged that on Friday evening, a group of community members from NU8 chased, assaulted and murdered a man they alleged to be behind the murder of a six-year-old girl whose lifeless body was found on the roadside.
“Police are following strong leads and no arrest has been made as yet,” said Tonjeni, who added that a case of murder has been opened.
’’Furthermore, police would like to appeal to the members of the media not to believe everything published on social media about the progress of this case.
’’When there is a breakthrough in the investigation, the members of the media will be first to be informed. These unconfirmed speculations on social media have a potential to jeopardise police investigations.
’’We need to respect the family of the young girl during this challenging times and the rule of law. If any member of the public has any important information to share about the case, they should immediately inform the police.
’’Taking the law into (one’s) own hands has undesirable and unintended consequences.’’
Acting Eastern Cape police commissioner Major General Thembisile Patekile also urged residents not to take the law into their own hands.
“The SAPS condemns all acts of vigilantism and public violence. We acknowledge public interest and the need for a speedy arrest in this case,” he said.
“A task team comprising seasoned detectives has been established to give undivided attention to the investigation of the murder of the young girl case and has been given a timeline to make a breakthrough.’’
A person who identified himself as the dead man’s cousin told DispatchLIVE on Saturday night the victim “got what he deserved”.
“What happened was bad and sad. These people are our relatives. I do not have the full story, he got what he deserved.”
Anyone who might be able to assist the police with information about the murder of the girl has been urged to contact the investigating officer, Detective Constable Lusanda Nkatazo, on 082 334 8028 or Crime Stop on 08600 10111.