Kgohli Lekhuleni, a self-confessed thief spoke after he was discharged from hospital with injuries sustained when a community attacked him and forced him to dig his own grave.

“I thought I was going to die the most painful death because everyone wanted me dead‚” said Lekhuleni

The 27 year old thief burst into tears and claimed he was possessed by an evil spirit.

“I was beaten before for stealing and I survived‚ but still I continue to steal and I cannot blame the fact that I am unemployed‚” Lekhuleni said. “But what happened to me has taught me a lesson not to forget.”

A video of Lekhuleni’s mob justice attack in Dwarsloop village in Bushbuckridge‚ Mpumalanga has been circulating all over the country. It shows people surrounding Lekhuleni‚ who is buried up to his chest.

Then he is struck on the head with the back of a shovel.

“Being beaten by a shovel‚ pinched by a plier on my toes … and the worst of it‚ while I was in pain‚ I was forced to dig my own grave so that I can be buried while I am still alive. It was not an easy thing to experience‚” he said.

“I tried to resist going inside the grave but the beating was getting worse and I realised these people were serious. When they started to put soil on top of me I accepted that it is over and I am going to die.”

Lekhuleni’s sister‚ Masana Lekhuleni‚ 33‚ said the family did not understand why he pursued a life of crime because they fed and clothed him.

“He doesn’t smoke nyaope or dagga‚ but we find it very difficult to understand what is he using the money for‚ because he hardly buys anything for us‚” she said.

Police rescued Lekhuleni‚ a father of one‚ as the mob prepared to douse him with petrol.

Mpumalanga police spokesman Sergeant Gerald Sedibe said: “There is no case that has been opened. The victim did not want to open a case.”

Asked if police were aware of the claims that Lekhuleni was a burglar‚ Sedibe said no one had come forward to open a case against him.

“The police condemn such behaviour where people take the law into their own hands. We urge people to follow the right procedure‚ should they suspect someone of being involved in criminal activity.”

Watch the video below.