“Deciding to take the law into your own hands, will lead to your arrest.” This is the message from the communications officer at Amanzimtoti SAPS, Cpt Charlene Van Der Spuy.

“Acts of vigilantism cannot be tolerated by the police. The police will make sure that such cases are properly investigated and that those involved will be charged accordingly. When members of the public, criminal or not, are attacked and killed by a few members of the community, this shows a complete disrespect for law and order and the human rights of all persons in South Africa,” Van Der Spuy said.

Vigilantism is the taking of the law into your own hands and is a criminal offence that can lead anyone being arrested according to the law. “We cannot allow chaos and unfair judgement to be made on those who have not yet had a fair investigation and trial. If the suspect was any community person’s son, daughter, father, mother, sister, brother or friend, one would naturally want them to have a fair investigation and trial.

“We cannot solve crime by creating more crime – and most often the crime committed by vigilantism is even more violent or serious than the alleged offenders initial crime. We must remain cognitive and respectful of the law in South Africa.

“There will always be criminals in society, this does not give us the right to try an eradicate crime with crime. This will result in a vicious circle of criminals running the streets. Revenge killings must stop. Alleged criminals or suspects must be brought to justice by being brought to the police station and allowing the law to take its course. We cannot allow such vigilantism killings to continue,” said Van Der Spuy.

The eThekwini Outer South SAPS cluster commander, Major-General TJG Ndlovu, would like to appeal to the community to report those suspected of being involved in criminal activities to the police and not take the law into their own hands. “Two wrongs do not make a right! And that crime cannot be solved by committing another crime,” she said.

Tips for a vigilantism free community

1.The community must know and must take it upon themselves to report anyone they catch committing crime immediately. Do not take any form of illegal action, it is a crime to do so and you will be arrested.

2.Open a case so that the suspect can be charged and arrested for the crime committed.

3.If the community is suspecting that someone is involved in criminal activities in their area, they must not hesitate to report to the police. The police force has highly trained members who will do their investigation and arrest those people involved. You can phone 08600 10111 Crime Stop and report any criminal activities and stay anonymous if you desire.

4.Remember, even a criminal has a right to be protected by the law irrespective of what offence they have committed. Once a criminal opens a case against the community, the law will take its cause which could result in him or her not being arrested, thus increasing the number of crime in our community.

5.In instances whereby a person is suspected or accused of evil doings in the community, one must have valid proof against that person, and the necessary homework should be done. Do not judge a person by his/her age or face and accuse him or her of crime.

6.If a suspect is caught in the act or is suspected of a crime, he or she should be handed directly over to the police for further investigation.

Aded Cpt Van der Spuy: “Community leaders need to get involved and deter the members of their communities, streets or even their own home, to be involved in such criminal vigilantism activities.

Crime is often a part of any society and so, we need to all work together to solve crime in an upright way.

“We cannot bring chaos to our community by taking the law into our own hands and acting as judge and executioner. We do not have the right to take the law into our own hands or to decide who should live or not.

We must follow the right procedures and create a society and community that operates as a community that works with the police to bring criminals and offenders to justice.”