Crime, fear, mob justice

Ratlou Mabula
MARAPONG — The development within Lephalale brings with it changes to residents, especially in Marapong where people live in fear.
Lately there have been several repeated house breaking incidents where valuables have been stolen. Previously items like plasma TVs and fridges were stolen in the middle of the night where occupants of the house remained blissfully unaware of the burglary taking place in their homes. Recently however criminals do their work between 02:00 and 04:00 and target items like cell phones, laptops, expensive clothing and jewellery. Items that are easy to carry and don’t attract attention.
Recently a household in Lesogo Street, not far from Marapong grounds, has been broken into twice. Five other households within a 2km radius were also broken into.
These criminals can be linked to several houses by the shoe prints they leave behind (All Star, Carvela and Bronx).
In one household of which the owners are well known in the community, after an attempted break in, a neighbour blew the whistle before the suspects could run away.
Moments later two guys and a girl appeared and claimed to have been passing by.
The sequence of this incident was repeated at another house that was broken into.
* Almost a year ago, on the 05 April 2016 a 27 year old was hit on his head with a brick and lost conscious in Marapong extension 2 before his tablet was stolen.
An eye witness gave fellow community members the description of the suspects, a 20 year old and a minor who were moments later caught and given people’s justice.
One very unhappy community member threw a brick at a car transporting Community Safety Forum members, accusing them of not doing their work.
At that stage Lephalale SAPS Warrant Officer Frans Mokoena said provincial officers were to speak to the minor before they would both appear in court.
Mokoena reiterated that mob justice has never been good as usually people are wrongfully accused or killed.
He gave an example of three houses that were burnt in Senita and everyone points to the community and no one specific.
* On 24 June 2016, a 25 year old youth was caught in the informal settlement near extension 4. He was accused of entering houses and stealing cell phones. The community undressed, paraded and beat him up until he ran into Marapong Spar for safety.
* On the 8 December 2016 three men accused of house breaking were also beaten up in Marapong Complex by angry residents. Their confessions led to a traditional healer near the complex being pointed out as the one who provides them with traditional herbs that make house occupants sleep longer and not hear anything during house raids.
Though there was no evidence against the traditional healer he was deported back to his country due to his expired passport.
* On 25 December 2016 Telkom cables on Relebogile Street were stolen after a manhole cover weighing approximately 80 kg was opened. By the look of the torn cables, criminals spent some time stripping them off one by one. This incident affected every household that uses Telkom in Marapong, including Marapong Clinic and Lephalale FM, which went off air.
* Around 08:00 on Wednesday 22 March 2017, a 27 year old was allegedly caught inside a house and when asked what he was looking for he said he has been sent to ask for a cutting device. He attempted to escape and three female occupants in the house caught him and called for backup. The family’s house was already broken into in 2016. Very soon concerned community members mobbed the suspect before subjecting him to people’s justice.
One of the residents in the area recognised the suspect from the previous day.
He has apparently pretended to be asking for directions to the house that sells vetkoek. This suspect was on parole for house breaking charges at Lephalale Magistrate Court.
It seems criminals are likely to revisit households they have broken into before.
The community Policing Forum (CPF) in Marapong is split into Ward 1 and Ward 2.
The chairperson of Ward 1 is Herman Sedie and Ward 2’s chairperson is Joseph Monyai.
Monyai says every week CPF does patrols with police as they are not allowed to patrol alone. He says the community can call on them every time there is a matter of urgency. They also hold meetings and draw up schedules for people on duty.
Monyai does not support taking the law into one’s own hands.
“No matter how frustrated residents are they should not take the law into their own hands as it is illegal. They should call CPF and police to avoid committing crimes themselves in the name of dealing with crime”.
Furthermore, he says the CPF is under resourced but they are working on getting resources soon.

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