Three men suspected of stealing cattle are dead after Dithabeng village residents in Ga-Mphahlele, Limpopo, allegedly stoned and burnt them to death on Friday.
According to police spokesperson Brigadier Motlafela Mojapelo, nine heads of cattle were allegedly taken to the premises of a family in the area by a man from the adjacent village of Makurung on Wednesday. The cattle were taken there for safekeeping until a trailer could be organised.
“On Friday, the same man came back driving a bakkie with a trailer and before he could take the cattle, community members mobilised and accosted a 46-year-old woman, whose premises was used to keep the said cattle, threatening to kill her.
“In the process, she was let go after she managed to point out the person who brought the cattle. The already agitated community members allegedly grabbed the man and two others, stoned them and set them alight,” said Mojapelo.
Police were called and, on arrival, two men had already been killed and the third one was engulfed in flames. He later died on the way to hospital.
The provincial commissioner of the South African Police Service in Limpopo, Lieutenant General Nneke Ledwaba, condemned “in the strongest possible terms, the brutal killing of three unknown people by the residents”, Mojapelo said.
“[Ledwaba] has ordered that the persons responsible for this inhuman act be hunted down and brought to book. The police will be merciless when dealing with people who resort to mob justice and kill those they suspect of being criminals.”
The victims are unknown and the ownership of the cattle has not yet been established.