By Songeziwe Mapukata
Stock theft and other criminal acts have been plaguing two villages just 10 km outside Mthatha, with alarming incidents of violence encouraging the community to take the law into their own hands.
They have sent four men suspected of stock theft to meet their maker on Sunday; two were burned, and two were drowned. The Eastern Cape police are now seeking the assistance of the public in solving these murders. The bodies were recovered two days apart in Mthatha.
In the latest incident of stock theft on Saturday, when the community of kwaTshemese returned home from a funeral they found all their stock stolen.
“The herds of animals were grazing in the forest when a vehicle was seen loading them into it. Someone immediately informed community members that same afternoon,” said a ward committee member who did not want to be named.
“The people that are responsible have no shame at all because they do it in broad daylight and are often heavily armed.
“When they returned to steal other animals, the community had gathered and burned them near the forest. People are tired of this,” she said.
“There are so many incidents of violence here. In another case, in Kaplan village, a minibus taxi ferrying heavily armed men came and robbed an elderly woman who lives alone, demanding all her banking cards. Even though the police were told, they did not come to show visibility or give us an update about any developments.
“There is never any police presence or visibility, in either village. We don’t consider ourselves as people who can rely on the police for anything. The only time they come around and with many vans is when a mob of angry community members has done something to suspects.”
At around 3 pm on Monday, police were summoned to the scene after two male bodies were found floating in the dam in Kaplan. The police have identified the deceased as Lunga Feya, 27, and Luthando Thingithingi, 34.
Provincial commissioner Lieutenant-general Nomthetheleli Mene has condemned the incidents and has immediately activated a task team to track, trace and arrest the suspects involved in both cases.
“I have faith in the team and we will not rest until there is a breakthrough. We appeal to the communities to work with the police, and to report any information that can assist in the investigation,” added Mene.
Pictured above: Stock theft is at the heart of vigilante action in Kaplan Village