May 25, 2006

South Africa: Schoolchildren riot, attacking rapist and police

A slightly summarized version of the story can be found here

Nearly 5 000 Pretoria schoolchildren, some as young as 10, were involved in running street battles with police in Mamelodi on Tuesday.

Dozens of businesses were ransacked and looted in the violence, during which police fired rubber bullets.

The bloody scenes erupted on Tuesday after children from five primary and secondary schools in Mamelodi East assaulted a man for allegedly raping a 19-year-old schoolgirl and police apparently failed to respond to the rape - 24 hours after it happened.

Irate children from Gatang, Ribane-Laka, Izikhulu and Solomon Mahlangu secondary schools, along with pupils from Boikgantsho Primary School, attacked the man with planks, steel bars and wire, trussing him before dragging him across an open field.

The man is believed to have escaped after road workers spotted the children assaulting him and chased them away. The children then turned their anger on the road workers, stoning them as they were escorting the man to safety....

Residents, business owners, vendors and motorists had to flee when the children stoned vehicles, houses and shops, stealing tens of thousands of rands worth of merchandise....

Citing the reasons behind the chaos, 15-year-old Dume Mpakaya said they had run riot because of all the crime that was affecting Mamelodi's schoolchildren.

"The man was attacked because it took police more than a day to respond to the rape. The only way we could get them to come to us was if we took the law into our own hands and behaved like criminals," he said.

"It looks like the only time police respond to crimes is when someone is either killed or if community members take to the streets," Dume said....


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