KNYSNA NEWS - The police say they will not tolerate vigilante action after arresting 10 people in Knysna last Friday on charges ranging from attempted murder to assault with the intent to commit grievous bodily harm.
The arrests led to protest action by residents of Kanonkop, Knysna on the N2 at Nekkies later that day to force the suspects' release.
Southern Cape police spokesperson Sergeant Chris Spies said the 10 arrests related to three separate incidents wherein community members allegedly assaulted the same 29-year-old man, whom they accused of housebreaking and theft.
The first incident happened on 21 April. "The victim sustained multiple injuries and was taken to a hospital in George. A case of attempted murder was opened." He said seven of the 10 arrests on Friday 4 September were in connection with this incident.
In another incident, the date of which he could not recall, the same man was again allegedly assaulted by a group of people.
A third incident Khayalethu on 30 August, and which police linked to the second incident, led to the arrest of three of the 10 people on Friday, Spies said.
The 10 accused appeared in the Knysna Magistrate's Court on Monday and were released. According to the accused's attorney, Bulelani Bans, this was to give the investigating officer more time. He said the state will decide at a later stage if it will continue with the case.
When the group was arrested on Friday, more than 30 Kanonkop and residents of Ward 7 went to the police station demanding their release, and later blocked the N2 with burning tyres. Residents were asked to contribute money for an attorney at community meetings on Friday and Saturday.
A Kanonkop resident told Knysna-Plett Herald that the man who opened a case against them had robbed and stabbed a couple in their home. "When we saw that the police were doing nothing, we decided to punish this criminal," he said.
Responding to this, Spies said a case of housebreaking and theft was indeed opened after an alleged incident at Kanonkop on 20 April, but that the complainant later withdrew the case.
He said police management met with community members as well as the ward councillor over the weekend about the arrest of the suspects as well as investigations into criminal cases.
"The group dispersed peacefully following these engagements," he said, but added, "Lawlessness will not be tolerated. The public are advised to give the police the space to execute their duties without hindrance."
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