Fake news led to Parkwood vigilante attack, say cops

The man was beaten and set alight along Prince George Drive.

Provincial police said a 31-year-old man who was attacked by a mob in Parkwood on Tuesday May 31 had no connection to any incidents of kidnapping or attempted kidnapping.

At about 11am a vigilante group cornered the man in a Toyota Avanza, accusing him of having kidnapped children in the area. He was beaten with poles, sticks and other objects and set alight alongside the Avanza along Prince George Drive. Videos of the attack have gone viral on social media.

When Southern Mail was on the scene, people in the crowd were convinced the man was guilty but no one could point out the children or the family of the children who had allegedly been kidnapped.

Several people on the scene, claimed that the deceased, two other men in the Avanza as well as others in a bakkie had been in the area to abduct children. Community members, some on foot and some in cars, allegedly gave chase and caught up to the Avanza but the other two occupants escaped, along with the others in the bakkie.

The reports by those at the scene said the victim was caught, asked about the abduction and some even claimed a child was found in the boot of the car. Police couldn’t confirm any of these claims.

Provincial police spokesperson Warrant Officer Joseph Swartbooi said the community were emotional about fake information being circulated on social media. “They partook in this senseless criminal attack and we cannot condone the actions of the community members.

“The incident that occurred bears no relevance to an incident of kidnapping or attempted kidnapping”.

Southern Mail can confirm that several posts on Facebook and WhatsApp have been circulating about Avanzas, in particular, with suspicious male occupants driving around in neighbourhoods. Police said none of these cases had been reported to them.

Warrant Officer Swartbooi cautioned the community not to follow their emotions and commit serious and violent crimes, as they will face the law.

He confirmed a 31-year-old man was declared dead on the scene by the medical personnel. “The suspects who fled the scene, are yet to be arrested.”

Grassy Park Police are investigating a murder. Anyone with information of this senseless killing is urged to call Crime Stop on 08600 10111