Mob justice in Grassy Park

The community beat up three men accused of robbing a LOFOB resident last week.

Two alleged robbers were seriously injured last week when they were assaulted by residents in Grassy Park after robbing a blind person.

Bongani Bajisi, 30, who is legally blind, was taking a walk near the League of the Friends of the Blind (LOFOB), in Grassy Park, on Friday January 19 with his friend who is also partially blind.

The two men were walking past Klip Road Clinic when three men robbed Mr Bajisi of his cell-
phone.

“It was only my second day as a resident at Lofob and I thought a walk would do me good. While we were walking three guys pretended to know us and starting patting us
down and checking our pockets. They took my keys and my cellphone and ran. My friend and I then went to speak to some of the residents,” he said.

Mr Bajisi said some of the residents saw what was happening and followed the three robbers and asked them for the phone.

“They denied that they had my phone but then the community got so angry and started hitting the men. It was only then that they gave my phone back,” said Mr Bajisi.

Heidi Volkwijn, spokesperson for Lofob, said it is not the first time one of their residents was robbed. “A big concern is crime and people’s safety and as blind people our independence is in jeopardy and this puts a damper on how we as blind people perceive our world,” said Ms Volk-
wijn.

“Orientation and mobility is one of the critical skills that a blind person needs – to be moving around independently. When a blind person goes through something like what Bongani has gone through it certainly does impact how we think because we are more vulnerable and more of a target.”

Ms Volkwijn said she doesn’t agree with mob justice.

“Violence should never be the route to go. The message that comes out is that the community is extremely frustrated with what is going on in terms of crime. They have had enough,” she said.

Grassy Park Community Police Forum (CPF) chairperson, Philip Bam, said it is encouraging to see the community stand up for and protect vulnerable people.

“I want to, however, appeal to the community to hold the culprits until the police arrive so that the suspect can be arrested. In this case the police took too long to come to the scene and the community started beating them,” said Mr Bam.

Grassy Park police spokesperson, Warrant Officer Wynita Kleinsmith, confirmed a case of robbery was opened. All three men have appeared in the Wynberg Magistrate’s Court.

She said two of the men received medical treatment after being arrested as they had been assaulted by the community.

Mr Bajisi said he appreciates the community’s help and will be a lot more cautious when he takes a walk.

People on Facebook responded to the incident. Shaun Krieger said: “I’m not one to condone mob justice but the people in this country are sick and tired of criminals”.

Desiree Williams said: “Not for mob justice but robbing a blind person? No man! At least he got what he deserved – a lekker pak.”

Brian Alcock said: “Yes the community must take a stand and apprehend the culprits but also act within the law.”

Mike Kabat said: “An attack against a visually impaired person is an attack against society as a whole.”