The 25 year old Mhlori Maluleke from Gandlanani village near Giyani, who allegedly went missing on 08 August 2020, was found hanging from the tree in the nearby mountain outside his village and his body was in a stage of decomposition. The cause of death will still be determined by the ongoing Police investigations including the postmoterm examination.
After the missing person incident, members of the community mobilized and went on rampage, took the law into their own hands and torched properties belonging to a businessman and two of his employees. This after accusing them of being responsible for the disappearance of Mhlori Maluleka.
On that day, a group of community members cornered one of the businessman’s employee aged 52 and thereafter gathered at the local soccer ground. They had reportedly consulted a songoma who in turn, pointed out the three men as the ones responsible for the disappearance of the victim. Subsequent to that, they assaulted, burnt and dragged him to the house belonging to the businessman’s mother where they torched it together with three vehicles which were parked inside the garage.
Shortly after that, they moved to the businessman’s residence and pelted his double story house with stones, damaging the electric fence and some property.
The angry mob continued with the attack and burned the house belonging to the other employee aged 51. On the way to the brick yard owned by this businessman, they came across one of his vehicles and torched it. The driver managed to escape unharmed.
When the Police arrived, the crowd had already burned the brick yard. The severely injured victim was rescued and taken to hospital with serious injuries.
This victim who was rescued by the police after he was severely assaulted and set alight by the angry mob, succumbed to injuries, later in hospital.
The attempted murder charge was then changed to murder. The deceased was identified as Simon Maluleke aged 52 and was an employee at Vahlavi Bricks which was also the target of the mob justice incidents that took place on that day.
The Puplic Order Police (POPs) Unit with assistance from the Saps Air-Wing and the local police were able to stabilise the situation.
Twenty (20) suspects, 19 men and one woman who were arrested, appeared before the Giyani magistrate court on charges of Murder, Arson, Malicious damage to property and Public violence.
They were all denied bail and their cases were postponed to 27 October 2020 for further police investigations.
The arrested suspects were identified as follows : Oscar Mabunda (25), Lesley Maluleke (30), Robert Ngobeni (31), Eddy Ngobeni (36), Hlulani Chabalala (28), Rodney Makhubele (32), David Ndlovu (38), Winners Ngobeni (25), Claud Mabunda (25), James Mahumani (38),Katekani Baloyi (37), Sebenzile Mathebula (38), Organize Baloyi (26), Sevha Makhubele (47), Isaiah Mabasa (35), Orlando Shishoke (32),Nkosinathi Vukeya (22), Easy one Mbhiza (20) and Katetani Mbhiza 40 (female).
The Provincial Commissioner of the South African Police Service in Limpopo Lieutenant General Nneke Ledwaba has condemned this incident with the most strongest possible terms, especially the vigilante actions manifested by the community of this village, Gandlanani.
“Members of the community are warned to desist from taking the law into their own hands in order to avoid this type of incidents to occur ,” concluded General Ledwaba.
The Police investigations are still continuing.