The devastated Velemini family from Crossroads want justice for their son, Songezo, who was bludgeoned to death for allegedly stealing computers, medication and medical equipment at a local clinic last month.
The 28-year-old was taken by a group of residents from a relative’s home in Site B, on Thursday February 22.
The family said the residents interrogated him about the stolen goods.
His mother, Nofezile Velemini, told Vukani that she and four community members went to fetch her son at a relative’s home and came back to Crossroads.
She said she was travelling with three male residents and one woman.
She alleged that the residents told her that they wanted her son to provide them with information about the stolen items. They promised that they were not going to assault him. But she said when they arrived at the place where Songezo was, she was shocked when one of the men pulled out a gun and dragged him to the car.
She claimed they tied his hands and legs with a wire. She alleged that they dropped her at home and left with her son.
Ms Velemini said apparently a group of residents had already gathered in a nearby park, just few blocks away from her home and were waiting to beat him.
She said she heard that her son was assaulted for nearly two hours with sjamboks and sticks.
She said after they were done assaulting her son, they took him to a nearby bush and started beating him again and even cut off his dreadlocks.
Ms Velemini said after two hours two men came to her house and ordered her to fetch her “dog”. She said when she arrived at the park her son had been badly assaulted and could not even walk properly.
“My son was bleeding profusely. I put him on my back with no one assisting him. He was breathing heavily. The residents told me they wanted him the following day and were not done dealing with him, saying, ‘This dog of yours we will teach it a lifelong lesson’.”
The 69-year-old mother of four said when she got home her son wanted food and water. But she said 30 minutes later she realised that her son was no longer breathing and had died.
“I’m not defending my son for stealing and I know that he had done some wrong, but did they have to kill him,” she said.
Ms Velemini said on Thursday February 15, a community meeting was held and Songezo with other boys were questioned about theft at the clinic. She said the residents gave the boys strict instructions that each one should bring back all the stolen stuff.
The following day, some residents took the boys to the various places where they had sold the items to confiscate it.
She alleged that her son had brought back all the items he had stolen from the clinic. But she said there were some items that were still missing and the residents threatened the boys that if they did not bring all of them they would face the wrath of the community. She said since that day her son disappeared and never told anyone about his whereabouts.
Ms Velemini said the community accused her of hiding her son’s whereabouts and threatened that if she does not inform the community where her son was, she would be chased away from the community.
She said she then heard where her son was and informed the community members and never thought that they would kill him like a dog. She said the other boys were not assaulted and asked why her son was the target.
Songezo’s elder brother, Nceba Velemini, said they were battling to come to terms with his death and had no idea of how they were going to bury him. He said he did not condone the actions of his brother but wanted to know why the residents took the law into their own hands and why the other four boys were not assaulted by the residents.
Wardcouncillor NokuthulaBolityecondemned the attack. She said people should not take the law into their hands.
Nyanga police station spokeperson, Captain Ntomboxolo Sitshitshi, said four people had been arrested on charges of kidnapping, murder and the fourth suspect would also face a charge of pointing a firearm.
His firearm had been confiscated.
Captain Sitshitshi said all four appeared at the Athlone Magistrate’s Court on Monday February 26, and were expected to appear again next week for bail applications.