South Africans who stoned and burnt to death a Zimbabwean national Elvis Nyathi in Diepsloot last night are now in hot soup as Police Minister Bheki Cele says a team of senior investigators has been tasked with apprehending those suspects.
Elvis Nyathi, a 43-year-old father of four, was killed allegedly by a mob demanding to see his passport. He left his home country six years ago and had been living and working in South Africa as a gardener.
Scores of disgruntled residents have been protesting violently since Tuesday night, following multiple murders and robberies in the area.
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Cele visited the township earlier on Thursday. “Unfortunate thing happened here where we lost a life. I am sure the police will pursue that and find the culprits. We are having senior detectives here who have put a top team [of investigators] to pursue this and other cases that have taken place here so that we are able to reduce the criminality and the murders. If we don’t arrest these people crime will continue,” adds Cele.
The family and friends of Nyathi say they no longer feel safe. This man, who wants to remain anonymous, has known the deceased for over 30 years. He met Elvis Nyathi in primary school and they became friends until he took his last breath. He’s devastated.
“I’m very frightened as I speak to you. I no longer trust anyone. I no longer feel safe being here. My life is not going to be the same again because these memories are going to haunt me forever. What they did will terrorise the community. They should let the police do their job.”
Last night, a group of people stormed a shack, where Nyathi was watching TV with his wife and demanded passports. Nyathi fled but he was apprehended by the mob. He was stoned and set alight.
Violence erupted in Diepsloot on Tuesday, after an estimated eight people were killed in the area in the past week.
Nyathi’s emotional wife, Nomsa Tshuma, says they were in their shack when a group of people knocked at their door demanding passports.
“They were banging the shack saying passport, ID. We opened the door and ran to hide at the back. But some were on top of the shack and those who were on top saw us. My husband failed to flee. They dragged him and started beating him up.”
Community leaders in Diepsloot have sent condolences to the family. Community leader, Sicelo Shezi says this is pure vigilantism.
“We are so devastated about the news. We urge the community not to take the law into their own hands. It’s upon the police to get the perpetrators. Because this is a human being. In as much as people are angry. We discourage them to take the law into their own hands.”
Earlier today, speaking to SABC News on the sidelines of the Heads of Mission Conference in Pretoria on Thursday, Cyril Ramaphosa said criminality will not be condoned. He added that law enforcement authorities are keeping a close eye on developments.
Police Minister yesterday announced that he was deploying 30 police tactical team to patrol the area. But Shezi says the number is not enough.
Cele and Home Affairs Minister Aaron Motsoaledi are expected to visit the area on Friday.
A representative of foreign nationals speaks to SABC News: