Incidents of mob justice and public violence have reached an unacceptable level and will not be tolerated by the South African Police Service.
This warning was issued by provincial police commissioner Lt-Gen Simon Mpembe following a weekend of violence in Sekgosese, where 53 people were arrested for public violence and malicious damage to property.
The violence was sparked by the killing of a security guard allegedly by his employer following an argument. The suspect allegedly shot and killed 47-year-old Amos Mokumo while he was on duty at the Sephokubje Clinic. The employer was arrested.
Members of the community mobilised and demanded the man be handed over to them. They started throwing stones and damaged two police vehicles, an official provincial vehicle and smashed windows of the clinic. Damage is estimated at R300 000.
The 53 appeared in the Sekgosese Magistrate’s Court on Friday. The case was postponed to May 2 and they were each granted R500 bail.
The incident follows another occurrence of public violence in the same area about a month ago, where members of the community stoned and set a man alight after accusing him of killing his 14-year-old daughter. Thirty-three suspects were arrested.
On Saturday, a 25-year-old man of Ntoane village in Dennilton, suspected of house and business robbery, was reportedly killed. A 27-year-old man has been arrested and will be appearing before the Moutse Magistrate’s Court soon.
On Friday, afternoon five suspects (three women and two men) aged between 18 and 48 were arrested in another case of public violence. The suspects were part of a group of people from Ham Village at Gilead, who went on the rampage and blocked the road between the N11, Groblersbrug and Mokopane. The villagers were protesting against the lack of a school in the village.
In January, six suspects, including a prominent businessman from Swale village near Burgersfort, were arrested for conspiracy to murder. The 51-year-old suspect, together with his three sons and two employees, were allegedly planning to kidnap and assassinate a prominent member of the community.
Following the arrests, villagers went on the rampage, torching the businessman’s house and one of his shops.
Mpembe described the behaviour of community members as “atrocious”.