The incident happened near the local clinic in the wee hours of Wednesday morning.
There was a heavy police presence on the Venture Street near the clinic at about 11am. The officers managed to control the crowd of men and women, who were still shouting and expressing their anger at what they called the high rate of crime in their squatter camp.
The police at the scene did not want to confirm the incident, saying their spokesperson was coming.
However, resident Ntombi Khumalo said she and other residents were woken up by the scream of a woman at about 4am and went out to investigate.
“We saw four men on the street and one of them was carrying a grass cutter that they stole from one of the homes. We caught and beat all of them up. One of them died and three others sustained serious wounds,” said the 42-year-old woman, who was still wearing a blood-stained nightgown.
“You see, I still have their blood on my clothes. We are tired of these criminals. They always steal from the homes here,” she added.
Another resident, Nthabiseng Mofokeng, said the thugs had been burgling heir homes for the past several months. She said some residents had also been robbed of ARVs, which the criminals use to make nyaope drug.
“We cannot live like this. If police are failing to fight crime, we will always take the law into our own hands,” said Mofokeng.
CPF chairperson Prince Dlamini accused the police of not doing enough to fight crime. “Sometimes we apprehend the suspects but the police take about five hours to come and arrest them. We fight crime more than the police even though we are not paid,” said Dlamini.
Soweto police spokesperson Captain Mpande Khoza said the three wounded men were detained for questioning. “Cases of murder and attempted murder were opened for investigation. Some police officers were hit with stones but they were not injured,” said Khoza.
He urged Dlamini to raise his concerns at the local police station.
Lieutenant Colonel Lungelo Dlamini said no one has been arrested and further investigations are continuing.
The residents exploded into jubilation when a state mortuary vehicle left the Community Policing Forum (CPF) premises carrying the body of the deceased. As it drove off, residents ran next to it and shouted: “Let the thug go to the morgue where he belongs”.