Motherwell mob justice tragedy
Father accused of raping child innocent, cops say
He was accused of raping a little girl, dragged from his home by a mob and viciously beaten to death – only for it to emerge later that the seven-year-old child had not been raped.
The mob justice killing of Mava Fundakubi, 52, on Saturday night has deeply traumatised his family – his wife, sister, brother and seven children – who are demanding answers.
Fundakubi was brutally murdered near his house in De Vos Crescent in the Shukushukuma area of Motherwell shortly after the family of the little girl said she had been raped by a man who looked like Fundakubi.
The child was taken to hospital for a rape kit to be done and it was determined by doctors that she had not been raped.
But it was too late for Fundakubi , whose sister – Nokwakha, 59 – found him lying in a pool of blood, with a tyre around his neck, about two blocks from his house.
The little girl’s family fled their home after the enraged residents turned their anger on them later, baying for their blood.
On Tuesday, Motherwell residents said vigilante attacks were being carried out because crime was spiralling out of control and they were afraid.
Community Policing Forum member Nomawethu Jama, 43, said she feared that “kangaroo courts” were on the rise and more innocent people might be killed.
“People love allegations – when a person is accused of something, they have the kangaroo court and beat people.”
She said people had told her they carried out the vigilante attacks because they had no faith in the police.
Fundakubi’s daughter, Thobeka, 26, said the family was struggling to come to terms with his death.
She said her father was a church-goer and had moved from Walmer to Motherwell in October to be closer to his work at a truck repair company in Deal Party.
He had been trying hard to provide a comfortable home for the family. Thobeka said posts on social media, just hours after her father’s death, celebrating the death of “the dog who raped a child”, added to their hurt.
“It was devastating to see the posts on social media.
“It was more painful [because] people were talking about it on the streets and there was no proof,” she said.
“It kills me every day, but I have to accept what happened.
“I wish for the community members, when such happens, that they must investigate before they kill an innocent man again.”
Thobeka said it would take her “forever to heal”.
Fundakubi’s brother, Makhosonke, said the family wanted answers – and justice.
He wants the little girl’s family to explain how they had concluded that Fundakubi should be targeted for rape.
“Just yesterday [Monday], I had to stop community members who were going to attack the child’s family [after it turned out she had not been raped]. I had to call the police.”
He said the residents had turned their anger on the child’s family after the medical finding.
The child and her family, who are not being identified, have since left Motherwell.
Thobeka said they had packed up at about noon on Monday.
A neighbour, who declined to be named, said she had not seen the family since Sunday.
Nokwakha said when she found her brother’s body, the residents were chanting ifile inja (the dog is dead).
“It was terrible for me, seeing my brother like that. I could not see if it was him [initially] and had to get close but couldn’t look at him that much. It was painful.
“He was badly beaten, bleeding, eyes swollen and a tyre was around his neck.”
The family’s grief is compounded by the fact that they cannot afford to bury Fundakubi.
Police have since warned residents against taking the law into their own hands.
Police spokesperson Captain Andre Beetge said the medical examiner’s report had revealed that the girl had not been raped.
“After consultation with the doctors and the girl, it was found that she had not been sexually assaulted at all.
“The reason for the claim is now being investigated.”
Asked why the residents had blamed Fundakubi, Beetge said that was still unknown.
“The killing happened when the mother had taken the child to hospital.
“What triggered the community to target him is still being investigated,” he said.
“The [accusation] that he raped her was proven to be false and detectives are now looking into a possible ulterior motive.”
Makhosonke said: “My brother had been an athlete and the rumour at the time was that she [the child] was taken by an athlete.
“Why he was targeted and how they came to think it is him, I just do not know.”
Motherwell cluster commander Major-General Dawie Rabie said the murder was proof that vigilante justice could result in the murder of innocent people.
“It appears that this man was innocent but was killed because the community jumped to conclusions.
“We, again, appeal to residents to not take the law into their own hands,” he said.
“We are now looking for those who killed an innocent man and they will stand trial for his murder.”
Jama said the CPF would convene a meeting with residents on Wednesday or Thursday to talk about the dangers of vigilantism.