‘Out of control’: Vigilante justice grips impoverished South African slum

DIEPSLOOT, South Africa – Ersido Ayele is still wearing the same pants, shirt and sweatshirt he had on when some 40 looters broke through the corrugated iron roof of his corner store almost three weeks ago.

“They burned all my clothes,” the 33-year-old Ethiopian said. “They burned everything.”

Samuel Maira, local representative for the ruling ANC party, says growing joblessness and desperation are behind the violence in Diepsloot, South Africa.

Samuel Maira, local representative for the ruling ANC party, says growing joblessness and desperation are behind the violence in Diepsloot, South Africa.

“Everything” included plastic bags of rice, beans and flour; bars of deodorant and soap; bottles of detergent, shampoo and cooking oil; a refrigerator full of soda. Everything equaled around 180,000 rand ($17,000) worth of stock and savings that he and his uncle Areg Aroso had built up over two years trying to make it in South Africa.

Nobody has been prosecuted in relation to the looting, which swept through other parts of this dusty patch of land crisscrossed by rivers of open sewage.  And it was not an isolated incident – like many thousands of others, particularly foreigners, Ayele and Aroso fell victim to violence shaking Diepsloot with increasingly frequency.

Read story on NBCNews.com >
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About fbrinleybruton

F. Brinley Bruton has been a journalist for 15, and worked in Kabul, Mexico City, Philadelphia, and New York City. Now based in London, she is a editor, producer and senior writer at NBCNews.com, a leader in breaking news and original journalism online that gets over a billion page views a month. Before joining MSNBC.com -- which became NBCNews.com in 2012 -- Brinley wrote about security, business and finance, international development and women’s issues. She has worked at Reuters in London and New York, and her pieces have appeared in the New Statesman, The Guardian, Los Angeles Times, The Philadelphia Inquirer, Long Island Newsday, The Star-Ledger, and Arabies Trends, among others. She also wrote and blogged for AlertNet, Reuters’ humanitarian news website.
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