AN elderly woman danced wildly around the charred remains of an alleged criminal in Copesville early yesterday evening as a cheering crowd egged her on and snapped pictures with their camera phones.
This is the scene that greeted The Witness a stone’s throw away from the Copesville Police Station early yesterday evening, in what appears to have been a case of mob justice.
A large crowd gathered around the burnt remains while a team of police officers guarded and monitored proceedings.
Some residents seemed to be uninterested in the proceedings and entertained themselves with a mini game of football not far from the ululating crowd.
A police officer on site said they were still trying to find out what had happened, although onlookers from the area said the burnt man had apparently robbed and shot a small child on Saturday.
Angry members of the community allegedly decided to band together to hunt him down yesterday and when they finally found him, they set him alight alongside Copesville Road.
The body was so badly burnt that it was almost unrecognisable, but this did not deter onlookers who appeared to be in good spirits.
When one of them said, “he deserved it” he seemed to have the support of the crowd who nodded in agreement.
One bystander said the community was trying to send out a strong message.
“You can’t kill another human being and not pay for it. Criminals must be aware now, because this community will take a stand.
“He took a life so they took his life,” said a resident who refused to be named.
Warrant officer Joey Jeevan appealed to people to let the law take its course and refrain from taking matters into their own hands, as “the SAPF [South African Police Force] does no tolerate vigilantism”.
Attempts to obtain comment from ER24 and the fire department were not successful.