Five Men Stoned to Death by Community Members in Tembisa, South Africa

Bianca Bridger
Bianca Bridger
Bianca holds a degree in Political Science from the University of Otago, New Zealand. As the Africa Desk Chief for Atlas, her expertise spans conflict, politics, and history. She is also the Editor for The ModernInsurgent and has interests in yoga and meditation.

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What You Need to Know:

Five men hailing from Tembisa near Kanana ext 4, were allegedly attacked and killed by community members early Monday morning. 

The reasons for the attack are currently unknown, however, community members often turn on those suspected of theft or other violent crimes. 

The deceased were not found to have any stolen goods on them. 

Journalists from Scrolla Africa spoke to one of the Mothers of the deceased at the scene, “[My son doesn’t commit crimes] he is always busy with his small business of cooking; But my heart sank when I saw him lying on the ground covered with a blue blanket. His head seems to have been hit with a big stone.” 

Colonel Dimakatso Nevhuhulwi, Spokesperson for the Gauteng Provincial Police confirmed to the media, “Five men were found dead. The suspicion is that they were stoned to death by community members. No one has been arrested. A case of murder with five counts is opened for further investigations.”

The Details:

Mob justice is not new to South Africa. Of the 21,325 thousand murders recorded between 2019 and 2020, 1,202 of them were related to mob justice. Community members, particularly in impoverished areas, claim they are forgotten by the state’s security services, and are thus forced to protect their communities themselves. 

However, the methods utilized by said community members are increasingly brutal. 

JMPD officers try to keep community members away from two suspects that reportedly robbed a supermarket in Eldorado Park on Thursday. Photo: The Citizen

In 2022, in the town of Diepsloot, Johannesburg, seven men were burnt to death by a crowd of disgruntled community members. Known as ‘necklacing’ locally, the act refers to the placing of a tire around the neck of the accused, before dousing the tire in petrol and setting it alight. 

Necklacing was first advocated for by Winnie Mandela, wife of Nelson Mandela, during the years of conflict between the African National Congress and the South African National Party. 

Does Mob Justice Actually Bring Justice?:

In a report published by the University of Witwatersrand, the author, Dr Sajida Medar claims, “Mob justice fatalities are a gross violation of human rights in that they represent extra-legal punishment.” Continuing, “ The at-risk population was young to middle aged black South African males. The majority of deaths were due to blunt force head injury, and were so severe that most deaths occurred within 24 hours of injury.” 

Furthermore, a Servamus article published in November 2020, touches on the many instances of ‘wrong-place wrong-time’ for mob justice victims. In many cases, the community has little information on the perpetrator, as seen in the 2019 murder of 52-year-old Mava Fundakubiwho. A seven-year old girl was allegedly raped in the Eastern Cape town of Motherwell, and community members claimed Fundakubiwho fit the description of the accused. A medical examination of the girl, conducted after Fundakubiwho’s execution, concluded that she had not been assaulted at all.  

As shown, extra-judicial killings, particularly in cases of mob justice, do more to take away community safety than add to it. 


What do you think? Can mob justice killings be warranted? If so, in what context?