Five appear in court for Parkwood mob attack

Abongile Mafalala was beaten and set alight along Prince George Drive.

While Parkwood residents held a vigil where a 31-year-old man was attacked and killed last week, his family are demanding justice.

Five people have appeared in the Wynberg Magistrate’s Court in connection with the killing of Abongile Mafalala, from Dunoon, and more people are expected to be arrested, according to National Prosecuting Authority (NPO) spokesperson Eric Ntabazalila.

Speaking to Southern Mail’s sister newspaper Tabletalk on Saturday, Mr Mafalala’s two sisters, nieces, nephews and girlfriend said the family is finding it hard to forgive the people of Parkwood, who have made many attempts to meet with them.

Meanwhile, provincial police have made a plea 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. The provincial office also encouraged those who witness a crime taking place to report it to law enforcement agencies instead of on social media.

Mr Mafalala was attacked by a mob in Parkwood on Tuesday May 31 but police say he had no connection to any incidents of kidnapping or attempted kidnapping.

At about 11am, a vigilante group cornered Mr Mafalala 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.

The community met on Sunday June 5 for the vigil.

Several people on the scene claimed Mr Mafalala, two other men in the Avanza as well as others in a bakkie had been in the area to abduct children, however, Grassy Park police station commander Colonel Dawood Laing said the e-hailing driver was working in the area and was robbed by gangsters who falsely accused him of abducting children.

He was chased down by community members, some on foot and some in cars, and while trying to get away, the Avanza he was driving stalled on the open field on the corned of Prince George Drive and Hyde Road where he was killed.

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 warned people of fake kidnapping stories on social media and encouraged people to check if the information is true before reposting on engaging on such posts.

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.

“We have noted with concern various social media posts in relation to perceived kidnappings or abductions and it is on this basis that we wish to caution social media users against posting of unverified information about abductions,“ said Warrant Officer Swartbooi.

Grassy Park police spokesperson Captain Wynita Kleinsmith confirmed that a number of people were taken in for questioning, and nine people appeared at Wynberg Magistrate’s Court on Monday June 6 but the case was postponed to Monday June 13 for bail information. The men and women were apprehended on Thursday June 2 and Friday June 3 but Captain Kleinsmith said their office have made it clear that bail should not be granted. Angry friends and family of the victim and Dunoon residents protested at the court on Monday demanding that all those involved be arrested.

Max Swartz from Parkwood Community Upliftment organised the interfaith prayer vigil on Sunday June 5.

He said the community wanted to send their condolences to his family and to show how sorry and regretful they are about the incident.

“We as the community came together and decided to say that we are sorry for the actions of some of the people of Parkwood.”

Mr Swartz said justice must be served in the case of the murder of the innocent man: “We do not agree with what happened last week Tuesday and I personally feel that we are not God and cannot judge a person based on hearsay. We also mourn the loss of Abongile and pray for strength for his family as well.”

The community held a prayer Vigil for Abongile Mafalala.

Paul Phillips from the Voice of Parkwood said the meeting was to relay their heartfelt condolences to the family and to convey a message to his family and community that what happened was not a reflection of all the people of Parkwood.

“We apologise because this in not he fibre of our people and it is not what Parkwood is all about. Parkwood is a community that stands together and support each other despite all the challenges.

He further said the law must take its course and for the perpetrators to be brought to book.