Angry Tongaat residents burn down tavern over teen’s disappearance

Andile "Bobo" Mbuthu
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The situation remains tense in Hambanathi Township, near Tongaat north of Durban, after angry community members set alight a tavern that is linked to the kidnapping of a grade 12 learner, Nduduzo Andile “Bobo” Mbuthu.

Their anger boiled over after a video went viral showing a defenceless Mbuthu being attacked, allegedly at the tavern.

He was apparently accused of having stolen alcohol.

Broken glass, burnt items and a collapsed structure are what’s left of the drinking spot.

In the video below, Hambanathi residents express anger over Bobo’s disappearance:

Ward councillor, Zanele Khumalo, says the community is not happy with how local police have handled the case.

“The situation was so dire that the police failed to manage it. The biggest concern that we were aware of is that the community wanted to find the missing child; which we did. They wanted the suspects to be arrested; which they were. I spoke to the community now that these two concerns have been addressed, can they please calm down. Unfortunately, the community had other plans when I left and they proceeded to burn the tavern. When I arrived the second time, I had asked them where the police where gone they said they chased them and the firefighters.”

KwaZulu-Natal police spokesperson, Jay Naicker, says an arson investigation is under way.

“It’s alleged that last night (Friday), approximately 500 residents of Hambanathi gathered at a tavern in the area. Police officers from Tongaat as well as a public order policing unit attended to the incident. Two fire brigades where called to the scene, however, the community stoned their vehicles and asked them to leave the scene. The public order policing unit then dispersed the group who left the area. No injuries were reported. Police are investigating a case of arson.”

In the video below, six people have been taken in for questioning over Mbuthu’s alleged kidnap: 

KwaZulu-Natal Transport, Community Safety and Liaison MEC, Bheki Ntuli, has condemned the burning of the tavern.

He has appealed for calm to allow police to conduct their investigations.

“I would appeal to the community to give police as much information as is possible. I am appealing for the co-operation, but mostly I would like to appeal to the community that they must be calmness in the area so that we are able to work smoothly towards achieving the goal of the law taking its course.”

On Friday, police retrieved a body in a local river in the area, but it is still not clear whether the remains are those of the missing teenager.

During the week, community members held prayer vigils outside Mbuthu’s home in a show of support for the family.

Six people have been taken in for questioning and the community wants them charged.

Police say they are continuing to monitor the situation in the area.