Over the past few days there have been a spate of vigilante killings in Etwatwa in the Ekurhuleni Metro Municipality.
Media reports reveal that three young people have been killed by community members since the beginning of the week.
On Sunday, a teenager, who was allegedly a member of the One Vision Lover (OVL) gang, was attacked and burnt to death by community members.
This violence escalated on Tuesday evening when a group severely assaulted and set alight 16-year old twin brothers Sabelo and Samekelo Maisela, who were also suspected of being members of the OVL gang.
Etwatwa residents claim the OVL gang have been terrorising them for months and are behind a spate of robberies, assaults and murders in the area. They claim that when gang members are arrested by the police they are soon freed and continue to harass residents.
This is why the community have decided to take the law into their own hands.
While the DA understands the frustration of the Etwatwa community, no matter what the circumstances or allegations, we cannot have communities taking the law into their own hands.
Vigilantism is a crime
Vigilantism is a crime and it cannot be tolerated by law enforcement agencies. Anyone involved in any incident of vigilante killings becomes a criminal themselves.
While the Etwatwa police have arrested four people in relation to the Sunday’s attack, it is clear that their response to this situation has largely been reactive to date.
It is critical that the Etwatwa SAPS implements a proactive plan
It is critical that the Etwatwa SAPS implements a proactive plan that focuses on preventing further vigilante attacks in the area.
This action plan must involve a number of interventions including:
- Ensuring that perpetrators behind the recent robberies, assaults and murders in the area are arrested and convicted of their crimes; and
- Engagement with local community organisations, churches, school principals and CPFs which is aimed at preventing further vigilante attacks
I will therefore be requesting a meeting with the SAPs management at Etwatwa police station to discuss the development of a proactive action plan, which can be rolled out in the area.
The DA will also continue to call on the national SAPS leadership to reintroduce specialised gang units. The best way to make the people of Etwatwa safe from gangs is through targeted, sustained and specialised interventions like these units.
All South Africans have a constitutional right to live in a safe environment where the rule of law is upheld at all times.
It is therefore critical that the Etwatwa SAPS ensures the safety of all residents in the area and takes action against anyone guilty of committing a crime.
Michele Clarke MPL
MPL for Etwatwa / Benoni
Spokesperson on community safety
060 558 8309