Mob Justice: Community Kills Man, Dumps Body in River, Won’t Talk to Police

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:

Early Monday morning, community members from South Africa’s Thembisa township beat to death 24-year old Albert Sithole, and dumped his body in a nearby river after he allegedly entered the wrong yard while intoxicated. 

Locals claim Sithole, his alias ‘MaSeven’ ‘terrorized’ the community, committing robberies and rapes, as well as stealing items such as cellphones, which community members allege were found on him when they attacked. 

Police Spokesperson for Thembisa, Sergeant Patricia Mgijima claimed, “[police] tried to get information from the bystanders but no one was willing to come forward”.

The Details:

Mob justice attacks are common in South Africa, particularly in impoverished areas, with locals claiming the police are not reliable. Earlier this year, five men, also from Thembisa were stoned to death and then set alight in a mob justice attack after community members claimed they had committed robberies. The deceased were not found with any stolen goods. 

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 this case, the identity of Mr Sithole is contested, with some local media claiming the man killed was a ‘well known seller of steel wool and toilet paper.’ 

Mistaken identities are not uncommon in mob justice attacks in South Africa, resulting in the killings of 100’s of innocents each year. 

A large driver of this issue is a feeling of mass fear which overtakes communities with high crime rates. Thembisa police station has consistently ranked among the top 30 worst performing police stations in the country, and is ranked number one in volume of reported rape cases in Gauteng Province.