Analysis of mob justice fatalities at a forensic services facility in South Africa


Mob justice
Community assault

How to Cite

Analysis of mob justice fatalities at a forensic services facility in South Africa. (2024). Undergraduate Research in Health Journal, 2(1), e1785.


Background. South Africa’s legal system faces challenges in crime investigations and prosecutions, resulting in unmet justice expectations.

Objective. To analyse fatal cases of mob justice and provide an understanding of this complex and concerning phenomenon from the perspective of a medico-legal facility.

Methods. This retrospective descriptive analysis was conducted between 1 January 2012 and 31 December 2014. The aim was to analyse all mob justice cases seen at a medico-legal mortuary. All eligible cases were included.

Results. A total of 59 cases involving instances of mob justice were identified. This was an incidence of 1.8% of all cases seen at the Ga-Rankuwa Medico-legal Mortuary. We found that all victims were male, primarily Black African, which is in line with local demographics. Most were young adults in the second decade of life. The most prevalent injuries recorded were blunt force injuries (87%), burns (3%), sharp force injuries (2%), and combined injuries (8%). Most fatal injuries were attributed to blunt force trauma, with the head, upper and lower limbs being the most frequently affected anatomical regions. Among the fatal complications documented in the cases, increased intracranial pressure due to intracranial haematomas, as well as conditions such as acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS) were the most common.

Conclusion. These findings contribute valuable insights for forensic pathologists, law enforcement and policymakers in understanding the complex dynamics surrounding mob crime in SA.



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Copyright (c) 2024 C van wyk, M W Erasmus, K K Hlaise, Y Bismilla