By Fiona Paterson
Photos by Aiyanda …
A man was stoned to death early on Friday morning for stealing a bag.
Nyileka Sgqola’s twenty-three year old brother Lyanda was brutally stoned to death amid the busy rush hour of Siyahlala Squatter Camp in Philippi.
The whole community came out to watch as community members threw grey bricks at Lyanda until he fell, his head landing on a rock “like a pillow” says his sister.
Lyanda and his accomplice tried to steal a 28 year old woman’s bag.
Shocked and frightened, she raised residents from their homes with screams for help.
A chase ensued but the Brown’s Farm boy was cornered before being “stoned like a dog” his sister says.
Through tears, 36 year old Nyileka told the Daily Voice her brother was “a good boy, who had recently gotten involved with the wrong crowd”.
He had turned to stealing with his ‘friends’, but this time he was not so lucky.
South African Police statistics put Philippi as the murder capital of South Africa.
Not only that – it has topped all other areas for three years in a row.
President of the Cape Town Regional Chamber of Commerce and Industry Dr. Gerald Wolman said the statistics made people feel unsafe, causing many qualified professionals to leave the country.
Philippi is known locally for residents’ belief in mob justice.
Disillusioned with the police, residents think that the thieves would be released without charge if arrested, so they took the law into their own hands.
Even through her grief, Nyileka told the Daily Voice “I agree with this punishment – thieves should pay for their crimes. We knew he was stealing and everyday my family feared for his life”
So strong were her mixed feelings of support and grief, that she took her younger brother to see the elder’s battered and bleeding corpse.
“I want him to see what happens if he follows his brother’s recent behaviour.”
Capt. Sitshitshi says “Lyanda had been charged with two cases of rape in the past and armed robbery in 2002, but was not convicted.”
Cops have not found his accomplice but an investigation is under way.
The Western Cape reports the highest number of public violence crimes in South Africa; there were 248 cases last year, while the North West reported just 23.
Cops say they are trying to educate community members not to carry out mob-killings and warn those who do will be prosecuted.
The incident is being treated as a murder case, but it is unlikely that the community will point the finger.