JOHANNESBURG, February 27 – The National Commissioner of the South African Police Service, General Khehla John Sitole, on Wednesday condemned what appeared be an act of vigilantism which resulted in the gruesome attack and subsequent death of a man in Polokwane, Limpopo.
Sitole said that on Saturday, an unknown number of young people allegedly assaulted the 27-year-old man at Flora Park in Polokwane. The man was taken to hospital for medical treatment but he later succumbed to his injuries.
“It is alleged that the man had been arguing with a group of pupils who were at the school over the weekend.
“The pupils then allegedly brutally assaulted him, throwing stones and dragging him on to a public road, while several recorded videos and cracked jokes during the assault. The bruised and bloody man was discovered by motorists who called the police,” said Sitole.
He immediately instructed the province to mobilise the 72-Hour Activation Plan citing that the police and society at large should not tolerate anyone performing acts that serve only to undermine the authority of the State.
A joint multi-disciplinary SAPS team worked around the clock and arrested five suspects on Tuesday afternoon.
Sitole commended the police of Limpopo for their speedy response, highlighting that this kind of response is a message to those who exercise lawlessness that they will be arrested and made to face the full brunt of the law.
“To compound the ruthlessness of the attack on the man, not only are the suspects involved between the ages of 15 and 16 years old, but the incident was also filmed and posted on social media.”
“The social media post also reflected one of the young suspects claiming to be a son of a senior policeman and that the police could do nothing about what he had done. The same suspect is now among those behind bars and he is the son of a retired SAPS Warrant Officer. His arrest is clearly indicative that nobody can claim to be above the law and expect to get away with heinous deeds,” said Sitole.
Sitole said any act of vigilantism was as much criminal as the action of the person accused of committing a crime.
The Community Policing Strategy that was launched last year together with the Community in Blue Concept advocates active citizenry where the participation of communities in the fight against crime becomes every individual’s responsibility.
The National Commissioner called on communities to work with the police rather than taking the law into their own hands. “Vigilantism simply cannot be accepted as an approach to dealing with crime and criminals”, added Sitole.
The suspects will appear in the Polokwane Magistrate’s Court on Thursday on a charge of murder. (ANA)