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Pros and cons of taking the law into your own hands

By Godfrey Malibe

The village of Buffelshoek became more famous for reasons that could be seen as bad a few weeks ago.

The community saw a rise in criminal acts in recent weeks. It gave residents sleepless nights. The crime rate was escalating and getting out of control. More worrying was that some of the criminals were not residents of the village but people from outside taking advantage of the kindness of the community residents. There was a complete lack of police visibility. The inability to take control of the situation was proof of it. You may call it whatever you want, but there was uncertainty. The bottom line is that the safety of the community was at stake.

A pastor was kidnapped near his home in the area, and it is reported that a substantial amount of money was asked for as ransom. A woman also had to apply her acrobatic skills to save herself and her family from harm when three criminals attempted to rob her at home.

Before that, there were incidents where women were attacked and killed by their partners. GBV was thought to be the main reason for the attacks.

Nevertheless, it matters not how much communities, families, concerned groups or individuals feel about the crimes that happen in their vicinity or neighbourhood, or their feeling about the police’s slow reaction or the justice system’s wheels being seen as moving slowly or not moving at all, they need to that it is not the best option to take the law into their own hands.

Captain Mpho Nonyane of the Acornhoek Police Station spoke to Bushbuckridge News about this delicate subject of executing or punishing criminals.

“Taking the law into your own is a criminal offense. A person can be arrested and get charged for doing that. Community members are discouraged from committing such criminal offenses because they’re not solving the situation,” he said.

“Community members must report any criminal activities they see or know to the police, other than committing murder which may, in turn, make them the criminal.

Are police happy with the justice system?

“Yes, we are happy. We don’t see anything wrong with the justice system. Criminals get sentences that they deserve,” he responded.

Bushbuckridge News also spoke to one community member, Mosa Mahlakwane, from Buffelshoek.

“The Police are failing communities. There were many cases around Bushbuckridge as a whole and the police were never there to be seen. People took the law into their own hands to save many lives which would have been lost by now. As a parent, I live in fear. Your kids get abducted and killed. Even elders get killed in their own homes. The justice system will tell you there’s not adequate evidence to lock away the criminals. We mustn’t turn a blind again. Some of the criminals are friends of the criminals,” he said.

“What must we do as disgruntled communities? When communities apply street justice the police are so quick to react,” he concluded.

Another community member shared his view on the matter.

“The people of Buffelshoek are sick and tired of the crime that’s taking place in their area. Criminals do as they will. We have seen many gruesome killings recently, and the perpetrators are still walking free in the streets. So, taking everything in their strides is the last resort. If the police fail us, what must we die? Must we die while we watch?” said Collen Selekane of Matikareng.

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