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DIY justice: Mamelodi’s very own ‘John Wick’ and other ‘popular’ vigilantes

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Oct 29, 2021

In a recent poll, it was found that Mamelodi’s “John Wick” is simply doing what the police cannot. In fact, most South Africans (76%) believes that this is the case, while 14% said such actions are criminal and should not be condoned.

Mamelodi’s “John Wick” might remind one of a Hollywood blockbuster, but vigilantism is nothing new and has become a well-known crusade for justice as depicted in cult movies such as The Boondock Saints and Charles Bronson’s Death Wish movies.

Mamelodi’s John Wick: What we know so far

According to TimesLive, Mamelodi West residents are plagued by gangsters…and not a day goes by without gunshots ringing out.

“There is no difference between the Cape Flats or KwaZulu-Natal and Mamelodi currently,” community leader and general secretary of the Sebata Kgomo movement, Apson Makaung told the publication.

This is after at least 10 fatal shootings linked to Mamelodi’s gang wars.

In the latest assassination, a man believed to be the head of the feared “Boko Haram” gang, the 35-year-old Phillip Mnguni was shot dead on Tuesday afternoon 26 October.

Locals dubbed the killer “John Wick” after the film franchise featuring Keanu Reeves who ruthlessly kills his opponents.

‘I will be scouting at the village tonight’

While this is all speculation at this point, it was found that the killer in question has a Facebook account called “John Wick Mamelodi”.

In one of the latest posts, he wrote: “I will be scouting at the village tonight. Be warned, I want to finish Boko Haram. I am not going to kill Nkuzi now. Maybe later.”

It is unclear who he referred to as Nkuzi.

Another post said: “I am still going to take them one (by) one. They touched the wrong territory.”

Vigilante justice: What do the people say?

IOL reported that while some people in the community have been rejoicing that Boko Haram gangsters are being “dealt with”, some have grown concerned that the individual might be from a rival gang. 

Pretoria News also reported that the alleged killer was the face of another gang, called Bafarasai, which wanted to take over control of the township from Boko Haram.

However, others are lauding the vigilante as a hero.

“John Wick is fixing Mamelodi,” said Twitter user, @FGanjaboy. “The guy is doing what police failed to do. As residents of Mamelodi we’re happy with the developments.”

“John Wick restored back the life’s of the people of Mamelodi after so many years living in fear because the group named Boko Haram [sic],” said @BonganiNqoza.

After he’s done cleaning up the crime in Mamelodi will John Wick go to Johannesburg? pic.twitter.com/ZPnQoNdKIQ

— KARABO DENOTION (@MrDenotion) October 26, 2021

Real-life vigilantes across the world

From the “Alaskan Avenger” who attacked paedophiles with a hammer to Mamelodi’s own “John Wick”, there are some shocking true stories of vigilante justice across the world.

When it comes to real-life vigilantes, All Things Interesting reports that postwar Germany has no better example than Marianne Bachmeier. A struggling single mother, she was horrified to learn that her seven-year-old daughter Anna had been killed.

On 5 May 1980, the girl had skipped school and somehow found herself at the house of her neighbour – a 35-year-old butcher named Klaus Grabowski. When her daughter was murdered, Bachmeier pulled out a gun in the courtroom and shot at the killer eight times. 

Another case in Germany saw 50 “right-wing” vigilantes on their way to try and patrol the Germany-Poland border to stop migrants entering the country in October 2021. Police said that the group was armed with pepper spray, a bayonet, a machete and batons, according to a statement from the Brandenburg Southern Police press office.

In 2006, Jason Vukovich (also known as the “Alaskan Avenger”) tracked down a number of sex offenders listed on the nation’s public registry and attacked them with a hammer.

Meanwhile, the Gulabi Gang is a vigilante group in North India targeting domestic abuse and other violence against women. They are well-known for wearing pink and its members are not not afraid to give corrupt politicians or misogynistic men a good thrashing if they have hurt women or the poor.

In New York, Curtis Silwa founded the Guardian Angels in 1979 as an attempt to counter the muggings and assaults that were so common on both the streets and subways.

At first, the New York Police Department was not pleased that a volunteer vigilante group had banded together to fight crime, but reached an “understanding” with the Guardian Angels and agreed to work with them.

Many of the Guardian Angels know mixed martial arts, and the group teaches self-defence and practices role-playing scenarios so they are not caught off-guard when they confront someone who is up to no good, reports The Things.

They’ve also branched out to create an all-female group called the Perv Busters whose mission is to find and shame subway perverts. 

Residents in South East London have dubbed a vigilante operating in the area as “The Bromley Batman”. It is reported that the rather stealthy Batman of Bromley has a knack for being in the right place at the right time and usually operates during the night trying to save saving innocent victims from real-life villains. 

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