Tragedy struck as a man, his girlfriend and her son were stoned to death by an aggrieved mob after the lifeless body of an eight-year-old missing girl, Nomsa Sambo, was found inside a pit toilet in South Africa.
Police spokesperson, Brig Selvy Mohlala, said the incident happened in the early hours of Saturday, February 18, 2023, in Senotlelo in Vaalbank, Mpumalanga.
"A boyfriend (53), his girlfriend (51) and her son (32) were reportedly stoned to death at Senotlelo in Vaalbank after the body of an 8-year-old girl was found inside a pit toilet in the early hours of Saturday 18 February 2023 around 02:00.
"According to the report, Nomsa Sambo (8) went missing and was reported as such by her family at Vaalbank SAPS on Sunday, 12 February 2023. Thereafter information emerged about a man who was allegedly seen carrying Nomsa to his house. Police then responded to the information and on Monday, 13 February 2023 they took him for questioning.
"A kidnapping case was opened to that regard. However, the man denied all the allegations. There was insufficient evidence by then to charge him hence he was later released.
"This morning (18 February 2023) information surfaced that the missing child was inside a pit toilet at the suspect's residence. Police from Vaalbank as well as members from Search and Rescue team rushed to the scene and upon arrival they found lifeless bodies of three individuals, two males and one female on the street.
"The bodies reportedly had serious injuries which suggest that they could have been stoned and the medical personnel came to the scene as well where they were certified dead.
"Police also discovered that two vehicles, a Ford Bantam as well as a VW Jetta 4 were burnt to ashes. The child was eventually retrieved from the pit toilet and she was unfortunately certified dead as well.
"The three were since identified as Mr Zele Papo Machika (53), his female friends, Ms Pauline Maubane (51), as well as their son, Mr Thabo Maubane (32). The Police later learnt that the torched vehicles belonged to Thabo Maubane.
"The case of kidnapping has since been changed to murder meanwhile three counts of murder is been investigated with regard to the three adults that were murdered. No one has been arrested so far and police are investigating this horrific incident.
"A team of investigators under the leadership of the Provincial Commissioner of the SAPS in Mpumalanga, Lieutenant General Semakaleng Daphney Manamela has been assembled to probe meanwhile the General has strongly condemned this incident. "
This country is governed by laws and a situation of mob justice where people take the law into their own hands can never be accepted or allowed hence we encourage communities to work together with the police whenever they have information regarding crime rather than trying to pay revenge themselves. We had long-life sentences that were imposed upon perpetrators of violent crimes. Therefore the public should allow the arms of the state to operate," said Lieutenant General Manamela.