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Necklacing (sometimes called necklace) is the practice of summary execution carried out by forcing a rubber tire (tyre), filled with gasoline, around a victim's chest and arms, and setting it on fire.
The practice became a common method of lethal lynching during disturbances in South Africa in the 1980s and 1990s. The first recorded instance took place in Uitenhage on 23 March 1985 when African National Congress (ANC) supporters killed a councillor who was suspected of being a collaborator. The victim may take up to 20 minutes to die, suffering severe burns in the process.
Necklacing sentences were sometimes handed down against alleged criminals by "people's courts" established in black townships as a means of circumventing the apartheid judicial system. Necklacing was also used to punish members of the black community who were perceived as collaborators with the apartheid regime. These included black policemen, town councilors and others, as well as their relatives and associates. The practice was often carried out in the name of the ANC, and was even implicitly endorsed by Winnie Mandela, then-wife of the imprisoned Nelson Mandela and a senior member of the ANC, although the ANC officially condemned the practice.
The first recorded victim of necklacing was a young girl, Maki Skosana, in July 1985.
|“||Moloko said her sister was burned to death with a tyre around her neck while attending the funeral of one of the youths.
Her body had been scorched by fire and some broken pieces of glass had been inserted into her vagina, Moloko told the committee.
Moloko added that a big rock had been thrown on her face after she had been killed.
Photojournalist Kevin Carter was the first to photograph a public execution by necklacing in South Africa in the mid-1980s. He later spoke of the images
|“||I was appalled at what they were doing. I was appalled at what I was doing. But then people started talking about those pictures... then I felt that maybe my actions hadn't been at all bad. Being a witness to something this horrible wasn't necessarily such a bad thing to do.||”|
He went on to say:
|“||After having seen so many necklacings on the news, it occurs to me that either many others were being performed (off camera as it were) and this was just the tip of the iceberg, or that the presence of the camera completed the last requirement, and acted as a catalyst in this terrible reaction. The strong message that was being sent, was only meaningful if it were carried by the media. It was not more about the warning (others) than about causing one person pain. The question that haunts me is 'would those people have been necklaced, if there was no media coverage?||”|
In 1994, Carter took his own life.
Archbishop Desmond Tutu once famously saved a near victim of necklacing when he rushed into a large gathered crowd and threw his arms around a man accused of being a police informant, who was about to be killed. Tutu's actions, which were caught on film, caused the crowd to release the man.
Necklacing returned to South-Africa in 2008 when people turned against immigrants from Zimbabwe. The influx of immigrants led to violence, looting and murder in some of South Africa’s poorest areas, this violence included necklace lynching.
This practice of lynching is found in the Caribbean country of Haiti. It was prominently used against supporters of Jean-Claude Duvalier's dictatorship at the beginning of the democratic transition, from 1986 to 1990.
A similar practice is commonly used in the favelas (shanty towns) of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, by drug dealers against local people who have collaborated with the authorities. In this variation, a tin barrel is substituted for a tire, filled with petrol or other flammable substance. This practice is called the microondas ("microwave [oven]" in Portuguese). Its most notorious victim was journalist Tim Lopes in 2002 while investigating drug trafficking around impoverished communities in Rio de Janeiro.
Necklacing was also widely used in the armed insurrection led by the Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna in Sri Lanka. A graphic description of one such necklacing appears in the book The Island of Blood by journalist Anita Pratap.
The character Armadillo Quintero from the TV series The Shield uses necklacing to kill his opposition gang members while consolidating his drug trade in the fictional Farmington district of Los Angeles. In an episode of the Canadian series Blue Murder, two of the detectives had to investigate two cases of necklacing related to diamond and drug smuggling. In an episode of the Canadian/South African sci-fi series Charlie Jade, executives from Vexcor threaten Charlie's friend Karl with necklacing if he does not give them information. Incidentally, this scene takes place in Cape Town. In the opening scene of the film Bopha an African traitor is necklaced by a mob of other Africans, although the scene is supposed to occur in 1980 and so predates when actual necklacings began, 1985. In the film Elite Squad, a member of an NGO is executed in this way at a Rio de Janeiro favela (slum). In the film Tears of the Sun, Bruce Willis's sniper shoots a man who is in the process of "necklacing" a man in the name of ethnic cleansing. He is referred to as "the Zippo man" because of the "Zippo" lighter he was brandishing. In the 2008 British horror film Eden Lake a pre-teen wannabe gang member is "necklaced" as a severe punishment. In 2009, BBC crime drama Silent Witness incorporated the practice of Necklacing into a storyline surrounding a prostitution ring in South Africa.