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The community of Didikidikana village outside Alice in the Eastern Cape has lost confidence in the justice system. It’s for this reason that some have formed their own anti-crime movement called Mayitshe. However, the movement’s violent means of punishment has caused division in the community.
Villagers, like in many parts of the country, complain about rape, theft and assault.
People subjected to Mayitshe’s methods claim they were beaten with sjamboks for an alleged attack on their elderly brother. Two of them had to be hospitalised for three weeks. One of the victims says that they are scared to go back to the village.
“We too scared to go back to our village because we don’t know what they could do to us. They are very cruel, so it’s too risky back there because they might even kill us. They are saying they don’t want us to set our feet there. We want the law to take its course,” says one of the men.
Police spokesperson, Khaya Thojeni, has warned the Mayitshe group about the dangers of vigilantism.
“Police within the province continue to strictly condemn these sporadic attacks and vigilante groups that are operating in different areas. Because of the dangers and the unsystematic formula they utilize in coming with their interventions to crime. We know about the challenges to crime and people should not give up on the police.”
Ward Councillor Zukiswa Mpendu says some people cannot voice their views for fear of being attacked by the group.
“There are people who cannot voice out their views because they are afraid if they say something that is against Mayitshe, they could be attacked. So I can say the Mayitshe is structure that is not legal and we should work together in trying to form the CPF in the community.”
But the movement is not deterred by criticism of their actions. Member Mnikeli Nomtshatshu says that they are still going to continue with the operation.
“We are still going to continue with this operation, I have no doubt about that. We will keep on punishing those who transgress, but we will have to evaluate the way we do things. We don’t want to be in contrast with government, we are just trying to assist as the justice system is has continually failed.”
Not everyone in the village approves of the movement’s activities, but it’s the stubborn crime in their community that worries them more.
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