A Siyabuswa councillor and seven members of the community policing forum, who beat a young suspected drug dealer to death, have been sentenced to 15 years’ effective imprisonment each.
Acting North Gauteng High Court Judge Prince Manyathi sentenced councillor Klaas Mtsweni, 36, Buti Mtsweni, 53, Joseph Baloyi, 51, Dinah Skosana, 32, Ivy Masombuka, 30, Bongani Matsimela, 23, Zilani Msiza, 58, and Senzo Mhlanga, 25, to the maximum term for the August 2015 kidnapping and murder of Mbo Mahlangu.
Mahlangu, who was suspected of dealing in the street drug nyaope, was taken by force to a sports field one night where the accused – all members of the local community policing forum – took turns to assault him with a sjambok, shovels and an iron bar.
Although he was still alive after the vicious assault, he was first taken to a house where the police searched for but were unable to find weapons. He died before he could reach a hospital.
The accused all denied that they were part of the mob that attacked Mahlangu, but Manyathi accepted the evidence of a concerned community member, Patrick Nkosi, that they were the people who had caught and beaten the deceased.
Nkosi testified that Mahlangu was caught and chained two days before but managed to escape.
When community members tried to stop the assault, they were chased away and when Nkosi told them to rather call the police, Mtsweni said they were tired of this “nyaope boy” and would deal with him themselves.
The vicious assault went on for almost three hours. Nkosi said the attackers put a sock in the deceased’s mouth so he could not cry out. He said he eventually left the scene because he could not stomach seeing the assault any more.
Manyathi said even if Mahlangu had committed an offence, no one had the right to take the law into their own hands. He said the sentence should serve as a lesson to the community that mob justice would not be tolerated. People looked up to the policing forum members to protect them.