RUNNING BATTLES: MEC Florence Radzilani speaks out against mob justice. Picture: Montsho Matlala
MEC for safety security and liaison Florene Radzilani yesterday urged people to stop taking the law into their own hands.
Radzilani was reacting to the calm but tense situation at Ga-Rapitsi village in Bolobedu near Modjadjiskloof after nearly four days of running battles between residents and police.
“Collaboration between communities and police in fighting crime is commendable.
“What is however unacceptable and will remain unacceptable is when communities start taking the law into their hands like what happened at Ga-Rapitsi.”
Police spokesperson Col Moastshe Ngoepe said police were on standby after villagers started demonstrating at the Bolobedu Magistrate’s Court on Monday. The demonstration was sparked by the arrest of 21 people for public violence over the weekend and the arrest of a prominent local businessman.
Police arrested the businessman accusing him of leading a mob which assaulted and killed an alleged gangster on Friday.
Ngoepe has identified the dead man as Magopola Ratlabala, 22, who was wanted by police for several crimes including housebreaking, robberies and attempted murder.
The businessman concerned was allegedly robbed of a firearm and other items by the deceased.
Justin Bopape, one of the villagers, said yesterday: “The gangster and his mates have been robbing and raping for a long time and police have been turning a blind eye.
“Now when we take it upon ourselves to solve the problem, police descend on us armed to the teeth,” said Bopape.
Ngoepe warned that while the dead man was on the wanted list for several crimes, police would still clamp down on anyone taking the law into own hands.
In an attempt to defuse the simmering situation, police held an imbizo in the area last month and invited representatives of business, civic, traditional leaders as well as members of the public.
In the imbizo residents were advised not to take the law into the hands but cooperate with police in combating crime.