Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Is necklacing returning to South Africa?

Earlier this year, South African townships were rocked by incidents of necklacing - mob-justice punishment in which tyres are forced over victims' shoulders and set alight. Is this notorious form of killing from the 1980s in danger of making a comeback?

Angelina Maholwana, 74, felt that justice was being done as she watched two young men burn to death.

Tyres had been forced over their shoulders, doused in petrol and set alight.

She had just identified Mabhutana Siwisa, 19, and Mloza Gqomfa, 20, as the men who had broken into her home, killed her son, tried to sexually assault her and stolen their belongings.

It was the second incident of necklacing in one month, in New Brighton township, in the industrial city of Port Elizabeth.

The practice dates back to the 1980s, when it became the punishment of choice among supporters of the African National Congress (ANC) for alleged collaborators with the apartheid regime - though the ANC leadership said it did not condone it.

It was also used against common criminals.

But necklacing appeared to die away in 1987. There had only been recorded case in more than a decade - until June this year. more