Mob Justice: Community Burn Man to Death Following Murder of Blind Pastor

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:

A man was attacked with stones before being burnt to death by Thembisa community members early Saturday morning after the man and his accomplices robbed Easter service churchgoers. 

According to local press, multiple men opened fire on church members in Ivory Park, killing a blind pastor and injuring three others before ordering the attendees to give up their phones and valuables. 

Church congregants were then joined by community members in chasing the assailants, resulting in the capture of one man who was then beat with stones and burnt alive. 

The Details:

This latest attack is the third mob justice attack to take place in Thembisa in recent months. On the 24th of March, 30-year-old Albert Sithole, who community members claimed was a notorious gangster that went by the alias ‘MaSeven’ was beaten to death and his body thrown in a nearby river. In the case of Mr Sithole, community members refused to speak to police. 

On January 21st, Thembisa community members stoned to death and set alight five men they suspected to be thieves. The deceased were not found with any stolen goods on them. 

So, What Now?:

As previously reported, Witwatersrand University Dr Sajida Medarn 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.  

Of the 21,325 homicides committed between 2019 and 2020, 1,202 were related to mob justice. In South Africa, mob justice is often relied upon by impoverished communities who are forced to provide their own security, as police are viewed as unreliable or unwilling to venture into townships which are known to be hotspots for crime.