Angry residents in Newlands outside Mdantsane yesterday attacked and torched a police van with two murder and rape suspects inside.
Police spokesman Captain Nkosikho Mzuku said the two men, both in their early 30s, were injured after community members placed burning tyres under the van causing it to explode.
They were saved from the burning vehicle by two brave police officers who were escorting them.
Mzuku said the officers first fired rubber bullets to disperse the angry crowd of about 100 residents.
They then loaded the two men into another van which had been called for backup, Mzuku said.
All this occurred shortly before 8am.
The drama, however, began in the early hours when a 25-year-old woman was kidnapped, allegedly by the two suspects, outside a nearby shebeen. She was dragged into the bushes, raped, stabbed and left for dead.
However, she managed to crawl to safety to report what had happened to her before she died.
Mzuku said the woman could not be identified until her next-of-kin had been informed of her death.
It is believed that after raping the woman, the suspects proceeded to their home in the nearby village of Eluxolweni and while on their way they came across a villager and allegedly stabbed him 16 times. He died on the scene.
Mzuku said soon after the murders were committed police rushed to the scene and began investigating.
He said they made the two arrests in no time but as they were trying to leave with the two suspects in the back of the van, they were stopped by a baying mob.
“The community of Newlands demanded the release of the suspects and wanted to kill them. Village residents went on the rampage and burnt the police bakkie. Police dispersed the angry community with rubber bullets,” Mzuku said.
He said the injured suspects were rushed to Cecilia Makiwane Hospital to have their burn wounds treated. They were under police guard, Mzuku said.
He said two residents in their 50s had been arrested on charges of public violence.
He said all four would appear in the same Mdantsane Magistrate’s Court soon on charges of murder and of public violence.
Newlands residents yesterday held a meeting but community leaders declined to comment. — firstname.lastname@example.org