Polokwane – A 68-year-old man was brutally killed and a 25-year-old man was severely assaulted in yet another apparent mob justice attack in Limpopo, the South African Police Service (SAPS) in the province said on Saturday.
The latest incident happened at about 8am on Friday at ga-Molepane village in the Jane Furse policing area, Brigadier Motlafela Mojapelo said.
"It is alleged that a 68-year-old man, accompanied by another man, aged 25, was driving a herd of about eight cattle from ga-Moretsele to Monsterlus, passing next to this village when a group of community members confronted and accused them of stock theft.
"They then started stoning the old man and thereafter set him alight. The deceased was burned beyond recognition. The 25-year-old victim, who was with the deceased, was only assaulted and he suffered serious injuries. He was taken to the nearest hospital," Mojapelo said.
Police were called to the scene and on arrival the group of community members started pelting them with stones, breaking one of the windows of their vehicle. One suspect, aged 24, was arrested.
"Preliminary investigations revealed that the cattle did not bear any brand marks and were not reported stolen.The police were investigating the information that the cattle belonged to the deceased and that he requested the 25-year-old [assault] victim to assist him drive them to a better grazing area at Monsterlus."
The deceased man had been identified as Phakaseso Maloma from gaMaloma, Schoenoord. The cattle had been impounded to conclusively determine legitimate ownership, Mojapelo said.
Limpopo SAPS commissioner Lt-Gen Nneke Ledwaba condemned the increasing number of mob justice incidents in which people suspected of crime were brutally murdered. Ledwaba had since directed that the "killers of the old man be hunted down and brought to book".
Cases of murder, assault with intent to do grievous bodily harm, and malicious damage to property had been opened for investigation and more arrests were expected. Anyone with information was requested to call the Crime Stop number 08600-10111 or contact the nearest police station. The arrested suspect would appear in the Nebo Magistrate’s Court soon, Mojapelo said.