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Nine suspects arrested following brutal mob murder of Uber driver

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By Tauhierah Salie

Nine suspects have been arrested in connection with the brutal murder of an Uber driver in Parkwood on Tuesday. Abongile Mafelala, from Du Noon, was beaten to death and his car stripped and set alight after being accused of attempting to kidnap children in the area.

Just hours after the incident, the charred components of a burnt-out car on a blackened patch of grass at the entrance of Parkwood, were the only remnants of the scenes that played out. A flurry of graphic videos of the incident spread as quickly as the rumours that led to his demise.

Speaking to residents on the ground, VOC was told several versions of the events that unfolded. While some residents refrained from speculating, others eagerly defended the murder. The ill-informed residents justified the killing amidst fear of potential child trafficking and subsequent “prostitution and organ donations”.

“We need to protect our children. This is our future, we can’t let people come and target our community!” exclaimed one woman, tapping the head of a boy around two years old.

It comes as Cape Flats schools heightened security in and around their buildings before and after school hours, in response to  social media posts warning that child trafficking is on the rise.

Parkwood residents claimed that the deceased was one of three suspects working in conjunction with drivers or owners of a “suspicious, white bread truck”, seen driving in the area since Sunday. Unclear reports of alleged suspects luring young girls to a shop with a R50, where the truck reportedly lie in wait, were also mentioned.

Numerous residents claimed the truck had stopped near Mafelala’s car to “move the children”, but was spotted and pursued. After being “chased down”, the truck reportedly sped off on the M5 while a taxi blocked the Toyota, forcing it onto a grass patch along Hyde road. In reality, Mafelala was exiting the area.

Video footage of the incident portrayed the dynamic of unemployed opportunists and idle onlookers. A traumatized eyewitness explained that the man- unknown at the time- was thrown with bricks, dragged out of the car and beaten to death with objects including spades and hammers, and was later also stabbed with the same knife used to flatten the tyres to prevent him from fleeing.

At the same time, his car was being stripped of valuables and thereafter set alight. It was also mentioned that “Parkwood mense (people) don’t play”, in reference to the stripping of the car. Children, estimated to be as young as 10, also partook in  both the violence and robbery, as residents flocked to the scene to lay eyes on the deceased. Reports indicate that older residents could not prevent the youth from accomplishing their mission. Recounting the subsequent outcome, residents also pointed to how rival gangsters “stood together at a time of need”.

Some had raised concern that the man’s guilt was not proven and that he was brutally murdered based on pure  speculation. Community leaders expressed disgust.

“It isn’t right what they did,” an elderly woman said in dismay.

“There’s a justice system in place for a reason,” another man stated, shaking his head.

Residents further claimed that the alleged suspects, comprised of “two black men and a coloured woman” or “three black men”, who abducted “a young boy and girl” from the area. A man and woman allegedly made off with the girl, while the boy was retrieved from the deceased’s Toyota Avanza. According to separate sources, Mafelala “admitted” that boys were “sold for R30k and girls- or older ones- for R6ok”.

Residents however had no answers about who the children, or their parents, were. Police later confirmed that there were no children as no missing persons case was opened.

Grassy Park Police spokesperson Dawood Laing has said that that the two men whom community members fingered as alleged co-conspirators, were in fact gangsters who assaulted the 31-year-old victim. Laing said the pair had reportedly robbed Mafelala and instigated his heinous murder to cover it up.

A sentiment of mistrust between residents and police became evident when residents were questioned about police reporting to the scene.

“They (police) just stood there and couldn’t do anything,” recalled an elderly man from a crate along the pavement.

“Why can you as police watch (…) and arrest me as a buyer of a substance, but not go the drug house if you know where it is?” questioned another woman.

“Let me tell you about police. They are on the gangsters payroll in this area. How can you go to a gangsters house; not to arrest him but to fetch your cut? And then politely drive out of the area again. But when there are shootings, or we call them, they are nowhere to be seen,” claimed a young mother.

Officials have urgently appealed to the public not to spread unverified information in person or on social media—or take the law into their own hands- as this fuels paranoia and could lead to the loss of innocent lives.

“Since the launch of the National Child Protection week, the SAPS has observed false accounts of child kidnappings/abductions. A plea is hereby made to social media users, to use these platforms responsibly and to verify the source as well as the authenticity of the information before sharing it. We encourage anyone who witnesses a crime taking place to report it to law enforcement agencies immediately,” Western Cape SAPS said in a statement.

The nine suspects were detained on charges of murder and robbery with other weapon than firearm, and are due to appear in the Wynberg Magistrates court on Monday.


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