Township crime triggers 'necklacing'


VIGILANTE RESIDENTS in Cape Town’s largest township have turned to the apartheid-era practice of “necklacing” to tackle criminals in their community.

The locals say they have adopted the brutal approach because the police are failing in their duty to them.

Since the beginning of the year the burned remains of at least 10 suspected thieves have been found by the authorities on waste land in Khayelitsha, a predominantly African township located about 10km outside Cape Town.

The tell-tale signs of the victims’ demise have all been left on display by the perpetrators to send a message to criminals that their behaviour will not be tolerated.

Necklacing involves dousing the victim in petrol, dropping a car tyre over their torso so both arms are pinned, and setting them alight. It came to prominence in the apartheid-era and was widely used by township residents against people suspected of collaborating with the white regime.

On Saturday, police came across the charred remains of the latest necklacing victim in Khayelitsha, an unnamed man who died at the hands of an angry mob that accused him of theft.

Following the incident community leader and ANC councillor Andile Lili said the killing was the tip of the iceberg and that the 10 murders reported since January were just those that made it into the mainstream media.

“The justice system is not assisting this community. Criminals get arrested and then they come back and do the very same things for which they were arrested,” said Mr Lili. “This leads the community to take the law into their own hands.”

While the South African police have made some headway in tackling violent crime over the past few years, statistics in many categories remain stubbornly high.The police are accused of turning a blind eye to township crime.

Police minister spokesperson Zweli Mnisi said yesterday that local authorities had pleaded with Khayelitsha residents to stop the killings.

“We condemn such acts . . . we will never allow this [vigilantism],” he said.