A Zimbabwean national accused of raping a middle-aged woman from Matangari in Limpopo province was recently beaten to death by an angry crowd, according to local media.
He was killed earlier this month and, a week later, the mob burnt down the house where the Zimbabwean lived, accusing the owner of harbouring illegal immigrants.
It is alleged that the now-deceased suspect, who has yet to be named, broke into the victim’s house at night with an accomplice.
According to Matangari village’s traditional leader, Vhamusanda Vho–Mutulagole Nyamande, the victim said one of the men had ransacked her house while the other one raped her. Nyamande is quoted as saying:
After she had opened a case, the police brought her to my palace, where she detailed her ordeal. She said she knew the Zimbabwean as he had been living in the village for years.
When the villagers heard about the incident the following morning, they ran amok, blocking roads with rocks and burning tyres and other flammable objects.
Nyamande said he had to calm the angry crowd down, pleading with them not to take the law into their own hands, but rather to help the police with their investigation.
The following day, the community had a meeting at the royal palace and decided to hunt the suspects themselves.
According to Norman Siebathavha, secretary of the Matangari Traditional Council, some community members saw the suspect that same afternoon hiding close to a nearby river. He is cited as saying:
When he saw the villagers, he ran and jumped into the river. After searching for him for some time, they found him hiding inside the reeds. They fished him out and took him to the royal palace, and the traditional leader called the police.
However, while they were waiting for the police to arrive, the angry crowd started to interrogate the suspect, beating him with different objects, and he succumbed to injuries.
Police spokesperson Colonel Malesela Ledwaba said the police at Mutale was investigating two cases – one of rape and one of murder.