The vehicle of the three suspects who were allegedly involved in a kidnapping attempt at the Mphephu Plaza was set alight by angry community members from Nzhelele. Two of the suspects died, while one of them managed to escape the burning car and run to the police, where he was apprehended and charged with robbery and attempted kidnapping. Photo: Maanda Bele.
When the Mphephu Plaza officially started doing business in the Nzhelele valley on 25 March last year, job opportunities, development, simplified shopping and other good things were all the community had in mind. Little did they know that an all-time-high crime rate, human trafficking and access to drugs also formed part of the package of this new development.
On Wednesday, 17 August, Nzhelele residents were shocked after a young woman was nearly kidnapped from the Mphephu Plaza in broad daylight.
According to eyewitnesses, the 23-year-old woman from Mandala village was lured away by three unknown men, who are believed to have used muti on her while she was doing her shopping at the plaza. One of the suspects allegedly tapped her on the shoulder while she was waiting in the queue to pay for her groceries. The next moment, she started following him out of the shop, leaving her groceries behind.
According to reports about the incident, the victim woke up from a trance-like state just as the suspects were about to make her get into their car. “The woman started screaming, and they got into the car and fled,” said a local photographer, who takes people’s pictures at Mphephu Plaza’s gate.
“We called after a local businessman who was driving out the gate at that moment to chase the car with the suspects. The car chase went on for about three to four kilometres, until the driver of the fleeing car lost control and overturned the car. The moment their car came to a stop, community members were on them, dragging these three guys from the car,” he said.
The suspects were beaten severely and put back into the wrecked car, which was then set alight with the men still inside. Two of the men burnt to death. The third suspect, who is said to be from Botswana, managed to escape the burning car and ran to the nearest police.
The suspect was arrested and appeared in the Dzanani Magistrate’s Court in Nzhelele on Thursday, 18 August, on charges of robbery and attempted kidnapping. His case was postponed to 25 August 2022.
Two counts of murder and malicious damage to property have also been opened, but no-one has been arrested in connection with these yet.
The police condemned the actions of the community members who took the law into their own hands. “The tendency of some community members to take the law into their own hands will be dealt with mercilessly, and those responsible will be hunted down and brought to book,” said Provincial Police Commissioner Lieutenant-General Thembi Hadebe.
Anyone who can provide the police with information on the community members responsible for the murder of the two suspects should contact the station commander, Lieutenant Colonel Adziambei Nemavunde, on 082 461 7554. Alternatively, they can call the Crime Stop number on 08600 10111 or the nearest police station, or send the information via the MySAPSApp.
News - Date: 25 August 2022
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Maanda Bele, born and raised in Nzhelele Siloam, studied journalism at the Tshwane University of Technology.
He is passionate about current news and international affairs.
He worked as part of the Zoutnet team as an intern in 2017.
He is currently a freelance journalist specialising in news from the Vhembe district.
Email: [email protected]