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By Shanice Naidoo

Digital Journalist

Mob justice ‘could increase more’ over the festive season, as trust in police decays

Private investigator Mike Bolhuis says crime could escalate between 200 and 300 percent over the festive season.

More than one in seven murders in Limpopo from July to September this year were at the hands of communities or vigilantes. This, as experts warn of a surge in mob justice and the breakdown of policing.

In a recent incident in the province, Hlogotlou community members were arrested after they beat a 16-year-old boy alleged to have raped a three-year-old toddler. “The community, fueled by extreme frustration and anger, took matters into their own hands,” explained police spokesperson Brigadier Hlulani Mashaba.

Mashaba told The Citizen of the 237 murder cases opened in the province between July and September, 37 were acts of vigilantism.

READ ALSO: Vigilantism murder suspect arrested after kidnapping, deadly assault by mob

Vigilantism also raised its head in Diepsloot over the weekend, when seven people were killed in two separate incidents of mob violence. Police spokesperson Lieutenant Colonel Mavela Masondo said “a preliminary investigation suggests the victims were assaulted and burnt by a mob”.

National police spokesperson Brigadier Athlenda Mathe warned communities to refrain from taking part in acts of mob justice, urging them to instead do a citizen’s arrest and hand over the suspect to the police.

A call repeated by private investigator Mike Bolhuis, predicted the surge in vigilantism could get worse during the festive season.

“October, November, and December being the worst times in our country where crimes escalate between 200 to 300 per cent. The possibility could arise that there would be more vigilante acts,” he warned.

‘If you allow it, it will grow’

He warned that if law enforcement does not stop the wave of violence, it could become a tsunami engulfing the entire community.

“The moment you allow this kind of vigilante acts it will grow. Crime begets crime. Anything that you do and is not dealt with or stopped can grow. If people see other people doing that and it is not stopped it will grow.

“Those who are involved in cases like this, these guys can sometimes be seen as vigilante heroes. It’s gonna bite everybody in the ass. We run the risks of retaliation because these guys could be related to other gangs and other syndicates.”

 He said those families that disagree might retaliate and the situation may get bigger. He said this may cause more mayhem and more bad than good. “Nothing good comes from violence.”

He attributed the rise in mob justice to a lack of trust in the police, citing corruption and authorities’ involvement in criminal activities.

READ ALSO: WATCH: Three arrested for ‘mob justice’ in Mtubatuba

Dr. Simon Howell, a senior research associate at the Centre of Criminology at UCT, highlighted the lack of police legitimacy.

“Vigilantism is never justified nor legal. Taking the law into your own hands is not a justifiable means of dealing with issues.

“Communities are short-circuiting [the legal process] by taking matters into their own hands. This is a result of a lack of legitimacy with the police.”

NOW READ: Troubles in Diepsloot: Seven set alight in grim ‘mob justice’ incidents [Watch]

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