South Africans have allegedly killed a Zimbabwean, Elvis Nyathi, in the country’s politically-volatile Diepsloot township in Johannesburg.
According to Nomusa Tshuma, her late husband was manhandled Wednesday evening by locals when he attempted to run away from a mob that was looking for illegal immigrants, who were suspected to have committed several crimes in the neighborhood.
Ms. Tshuma says Nyathi was force-marched to his home by the mob, which was pressing him to confess that he was part of a gang that killed about seven South Africans in the township a week ago.
“When my husband and his friend jumped out of the yard, they were cornered by the mob. I’m not sure if they used stones and rubber whips to beat him up, because when they brought him back home, he was seriously injured. He was not even able to talk to me. They found me next door. They asked if I was Nomusa and I told them I’m Nomusa because my husband had told them that I’m his wife. They took me to our makeshift home (shack). By that time, they had searched the whole shack with everything thrown on the floor.”
She says Nyathi, who worked as a gardener in upmarket homes in Johannesburg, was severely beaten up by the mob at his rented dwelling and then dragged to an open place where he was burnt alive with gasoline and vehicle tires.
“They (killers) said to me ‘where is your husband’s gun’. I told them that my husband has no gun, he is just a gardener. They said how was he able to buy all this property in the house. They thought that he was a robber since he had a gun that he used to buy all this property. I told them that we get most of the items in the house as gifts from the people who employ us occasionally for domestic work. They beat me up with a sjambok insisting that we are hiding a gun. They took him out. Two of them came back demanding R300 from me. I gave them R50. They went away with him and that was the last time I saw him. When my uncle went to check for him at the police station, he was told that my husband had been burnt to death.”
Members of Operation Dudula, a vigilante group calling for the removal of illegal immigrants from South Africa, has been blamed for Nyathi’s death. Indications are that a local neighborhood group, which allegedly killed Ncube, was not linked to Operation Dudula.
Police Minister Bheki Cele has condemned the killing, saying local people should not take the law into their own hands.
Reacting to the same incident, Economic Freedom Fighters activist, Spetlele Raseluta, blamed Operation Dudula activists for Nyathi's death, saying the vigilante group is reducing South Africa to banana republic.