Mob justice – taximen take justice into their own hands

Everson Luhanga

“At first I thought it was a bad joke, but then I got a call to say Manqoba had been killed.”

Menzi Langa never imagined the day he would hear these words. 

His cousin Manqoba was one of four young men who were caught by taximen in Alexandra township and beaten up, allegedly for robbing people in taxis.

The other three men survived but Manqoba Buthelezi died from the injuries he sustained from the beating.

The 24 year olds both grew up in KZN before moving to Alexandra, Johannesburg. 

“We were more than cousins. He was a friend and a brother to me,” said Menzi.

“I have never seen him robbing people in taxis.”

In the past few weeks, there have been increasing incidents of commuters and drivers being robbed at gunpoint in Alex and the taximen have vowed that they will not stop meting out justice until it stops.

This incident follows another mob justice incident in Zandspruit, Gauteng, where eight people were necklaced and burnt to death by the community. So far, six people have been arrested in that case.

Community members threatened to stop using local Toyota Avanza taxis because of the high crime rate, which threatens their businesses. 

A taxi owner who did not want to be named said the criminals are dragging the name of the taxi industry through the mud. He said as much as it is wrong to kill someone, this was the only way to deal with such kind of behaviour.

“You report them to the police and they get arrested but the next day you see them committing the same crime,” he said.

While some people are relieved to see the suspected perpetrators being punished, others shudder at the sheer brutality of it. The people who are attacked through mob justice have brothers, mothers and fathers in the community. Other residents walk in shame to be associated with the alleged criminals who are executed, often without guilt being established. 

Chris Mabunda, Alexandra community police forum chairperson described how the crimes take place.

“They get into a taxi, then they produce a firearm and hold everyone at gunpoint, demanding money, cellphones, and other belongings”. 

Police spokesperson Captain Kay Makhubele said police are investigating murder and attempted murder cases. No one has been arrested so far.

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