Zikhona Hlazo and Asenathi Silika, accused of stealing a cellphone, were stripped naked and beaten for hours by an angry mob in eNkanini. Mr Silika did not survive the beating.
According to the Harare police, he died at Tygerberg Hospital the following day.
The two were at the shack in eNkanini, from where the phone was said to have gone missing, at the invitation of a friend.
They left after 8pm on Monday when the power went out due to load shedding and returned later but were told to leave because the friend and her boyfriend were going to sleep.
The next day, said Ms Hlazo, she was surprised to see her friend and two men who had come looking for a cellphone, which Ms Hlazo says was charging when she left her friend’s shack the night before.
Ms Hlazo and Mr Silika were then taken back to the shack in eNkanini and told to look for the phone.
“When we could not see the phone, they told us we will bring it. They started stripping me and assaulting us with all sorts of (things) at their disposal,“ she told Vukani at her Makhaza home.
The brutal attack took place around noon Tuesday and continued until around 3pm.
Offering Ms Hlazo and Mr Silika a “way out’’ the assailants allegedly suggested they draw money to pay for the missing phone. The group then went to the home of Ms Hlazo’s sister Phumeza to get her bank card.
But Phumeza Hlazo demanded they take her to where her sister was.
“We were attacked for not knowing where the phone was. But to our knowledge we left them and the phone was being charged when we left,” said Zikhona Hlazo.
She said her dress, body and underwear had been slashed with a knife before they were assaulted by the mob.
She told Vukani she and Mr Silika had been attacked by passers-by as well, and with all sorts of objects.
Mr Silika’s head, she said, had been swollen and covered in blood.
“As you see that my body is full of scars. I was scared that I am going to die for something I did not do.
“I am barely able to chew. I had to say to them they must go home to fetch my bank card so that we can withdraw money to buy the phone. That is how my sister got to know that we were in trouble because they went home to fetch the card and she came back with them. That is how I was rescued from the monsters. I was scared because the group threatened to finish us.,” she said.
A horrified Phumeza Hlazo said she had laid a case of assault with police but she also planned to lay a charge of sexual harassment. “No man should be allowed to strip a woman so naked and be scot free. The fact that they stripped naked is a case in itself. Her dignity was stripped and taken away,” she said.
Community leader Lumkile Sizila said he did not condone mob justice and that he was determined that the two should get justice.
“That is why we have police. They should have opened a case with the police if they lost a phone. We cannot allow vigilantism in this day and age. The perpetrators must face the wrath of the law,” he said.
Harare police confirmed that cases of assault and murder were being investigated.
Spokesperson Captain Siyabulela Vukubi said four suspects, among them one woman, had already been arrested and would appear in court soon.
Captain Vukubi condemned vigilantism and said people must report any crimes to the police rather than taking justice into their own hands.