Having grown up in a small village surrounded by relatives and neighbours who spent their time in drinking joints, Walter made a vow to never touch alcohol. And indeed he stuck to his word.
His mum left her marital home when he was six years old. As he went through the cultural practices that separated boys from men it was obvious to all that he would be different. He never ever touched something that did not belong to him, he was respectful of the young and old, was helpful in every situation and to. He had a slogan ‘do good and walk away’.
How did this young man, now a father of two, find himself in trouble? A small gang of thieves had invaded and terrorised villagers for a while and so all were waiting for the day they would catch a thief red-handed. The day came and Walter happened to be a friend to one of them; they say ‘show me your friends and I will tell you who you are’. To those watching, he was the innocent, different young man, but when the sun set he would share a cup of tea with the bad boys.
A man who had stolen from a home the previous night faced resistance and ended up with a cut and blood that betrayed him the following morning. That is how he was caught and led the village security team to Walter, whom he had wanted to sell a stolen music system. Walter in turn guided them to where he took the items and indeed they were found buried in the ground. Four young men were tied up together and led to the police station while being beaten with iron bars, pelted with stones and being kicked and punched.
Due to the fact that Walter kept to himself and spent his days either at construction sites or on the farm, some of the people did not know him and on seeing him tied up with the thief assumed he was too.
Walter almost got lynched because he was in contact with someone who was deemed troublesome by villagers.
If you have ever been mugged, robbed or lost a precious item, you will agree with me that thieves are disgusting and in places where the system is presumed unfair, some people do take the law in their hands and personally deal with the culprit.
In many countries where mob justice occurs, the act is illegal but happens because the public is frustrated by the system that releases some of these bad people without substantial reprimand.
I hate thieves with a passion but my lesson from this incident is that mob justice is never a solution; it could take an innocent life and cause more pain. The best thing to do when we identify suspicious characters or people who want to take away the peace in our small parish or cell is to alert state organs and continue to trust that they will do their work.