Police suspect mob justice in Nelspruit deaths

South African police have found the bodies of three men who were assaulted and burnt to death near Nelspruit in what is believed to be a case of mob justice, a spokesperson said on Thursday.

Superintendent Benjamin Bhembe said police discovered the bodies on Wednesday after an anonymous tip-off in the township of Kabokweni, about 350km east of Johannesburg.

“Police found the three men, all in their twenties lined up in a row with their hands tied behind their backs with rope and wire. They were severely assaulted and then set on fire,” he told Agence France-Presse.

“We have opened murder dockets and are investigating the possibility that the men were the targets of mob justice,” Bhembe added, saying “We are appealing to the community not to take the law into their own hands.”

The men were apparently linked to a number of robberies in the area and police found a fridge, believed to have been stolen a month ago, at the scene where they were killed.

Although police statistics released last year suggested that murder rates are down in South Africa, the country is still battling persistently high crime rates as it tries to clean up its image ahead of the 2010 Soccer World Cup.

National crime statistics showed that 18 793 murders were reported in the country of 47-million over 2004-2005, a 5,2% drop from the previous year.

South Africa also has one of the highest rape statistics in the world—more than 55 000 cases were reported by police last year.—AFP


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