An unkown Zimbabwean man was beaten to death by an angry mob at Mpheni D2 after he was caught stealing copper cables last Friday. Photo supplied.
A Zimbabwean man was beaten to death after he was allegedly caught stealing copper cables at Mpheni D2 (Vhutuwangadzebu) last Friday (9 December). The unknown man was said to have been terrorising the community for some time, repeatedly stealing electrical cables that they were forced to replace out of their own pockets.
According to a source the newspaper spoke to, the man had been disciplined by other Zimbabwean nationals before for his stealing ways, but this time the community members had had enough. The residents say they are caught in an endless struggle to survive crime and poverty, which is exacerbated by cable theft.
Mr Johannes Mdumi, a leader representing the Zimbabwean nationals living in Mpheni, said the deceased had been severely disciplined by community members for assaulting a lady last Monday (5 December). “He was hospitalised and discharged himself, but then he was caught again stealing copper cables on Friday. We’ve been trying to rebuke him to stop stealing, but in vain,” he said.
One of the residents, who requested anonymity, said they had been alerted by a Vimba (catch the thief) call coming from the home where the suspect was caught stealing a second cable. “He was known for stealing cables around our area, and we finally caught him stuffing cables into his bag at around 04:00. We chased him, captured him, and beat him,” he said.
The police confirmed the incident. Police spokesperson W/O Foster Rambau said the deceased had been assaulted all over his body with rocks and wooden sticks and left for death. On arrival, the police officers called for medical assistance, who certified the man dead at the scene.
“He was transported to the Elim mortuary, where an autopsy will be conducted to determine the exact cause of death. A case of murder was opened, and an investigation is underway,” Rambau said.
Mananda Godzwana, chairperson of the Mulweli Traditional Council, said 14 copper cables had been stolen in one night a few months ago. “Eskom can spend up to three months without restoring the stolen cables, and the very persons who stole them re-sell them back to the residents, who are left with no other choice but to buy them,” he explained.
Despite the urgency of the cable-theft problem, Godzwana encouraged community members to avoid implementing their own laws. “We do not condone the loss of life because every life is valuable. We strive to deter community members from taking the law into their own hands,” he said.
Date:15 December 2022
Thembi Siaga started as an intern during 2021. He assisted with video photography and editing. He also produced numerous small documentaries, focusing on the Vhembe region and its people. Currently he works as a freelance journalist, covering stories in the Elim area.
Thembi studied at the Tshwane University of Technology, where he completed his diploma in Journalism in 2021.