Friday Fictioneers…The Necklace

Posted: November 19, 2014 in Friday Fictioneers
Tags: , , , , ,

I really had to struggle to get down to 100 words this week.  I hope the story didn’t suffer as a result.  But it was a story I wanted to tell and I did the best I could.  If you’d like to read more stories, click on the blue frog to access the current links to other stories.

Tirescopyright Claire Fuller

The Necklace

Police interview
18 September, 1985
_______, South Africa
Peter S.

I was taking pictures for __________ magazine when I heard shouting and screaming. Everyone ran to where a gang of men had shoved a tyre around a woman. People yelled that she was a police informant. A man, her husband, I suppose, was trying to save her, shouting it wasn’t true. Two men dragged him away. Then someone dumped gasoline over her and somebody else tossed a lighted match.

No, I didn’t get any photos. I was bloody well afraid for my own life. Don’t think I could identify anyone.


Necklacing” was a practice that came into prominence in South Africa during the mid-1980’s.  As Wikipedia reports:

Author Lynda Schuster writes,

‘Necklacing’ represented the worst of the excesses committed in the name of the uprising. This was a particularly gruesome form of mob justice, reserved for those thought to be government collaborators, informers and black policemen. The executioners would force a car tire over the head and around the arms of the suspect, drench it in petrol, and set it alight. Immobilized, the victim burned to death.

  1. Dear Janet,

    Now that was a horrific bit of education. Unique use of the prompt. I suppose the blanks are there to protect the innocent?



    • Got it in one about the blanks, Rochelle. A bit of redaction. As I was thinking about something a bit different, not linked too closely to the actual photo, the tires brought this to mind. Yes, necklacing was (hopefully not done anymore) horrific. I don’t even want to imagine how frightening and painful it would be to the victim/s.


  2. Sandra says:

    This practice was still being reported when we lived in Johannesburg in the mid-nineties. Janet, and not just to informants. Sometimes it was meted out as punishment for crimes, real or suspected. You captured the moment here.

    • Not the way anyone should be punished, guilty or not, by trial or not, Sandra. Such an easy way to pay someone back for a real or imaginary slight or crime…start the rumor, then start the mob.


  3. that’s a shocking story… but with only 100 words you told this story that I could really “see” this horrible event while reading.

  4. AnElephant remembers this vile practice, endorsed by Mrs Winnie Mandela and carried out by her supporters, among others.
    Well written, but difficult to enthuse about anything quite so barbaric.

  5. Great story but so sad that such a thing happens in the first place. 😦

  6. storydivamg says:

    Dear Janet,
    The story works well, and I think the editing down to 100 words probably tightened it for the better. It’s often easy to over tell with stories of this nature, and our word constraints for Friday Fictioneers helps us distill them into good reading. Nicely handled.

    One nit: Since this is presumably from South Africa, I think use of British spellings and date formats would strengthen it even further.

    All my best,
    Marie Gail

  7. I’d not heard of this awful practice. Shocking, but well written.

  8. For some reason this was one of my first thoughts when I saw the picture.. I’m so glad I didn’t go down that route.. you did this extremely well.. and the terse form a police report works well too..

  9. A little gruesome… especially for you. But an interesting slant on the story. Randy

  10. This was a horrific time in South Africa. I remember Winnie Mandela saying “With our boxes of matches and our necklaces we shall liberate this country.” There have been more cases of this terrible practice in recent years, against immigrants, caused by zenophobia. Some reporters do witness some dreadful things. I sometimes wonder how they manage to sleep at night.

    • I can’t even imagine how horrific it would be to see this actually happen. My story was such a tiny thing in the face of such hatred and horror. From my reading about this in South Africa, it was often black against black. So sad to hear that this is still continuing.


  11. J says:

    What a horrible way to die ….. senseless, senseless, senseless. Thank you for opening my eyes. I had not heard of necklacing.

    • Hopefully it’s something that never happens again, although I understand it still does sometimes. Some people seem to possess an infinite capacity for evil and a mob often has the potential for violence, even of the most horrific sort.


      • J says:

        You’re right — some people are twisted to their core. Get them together in groups and there’s no telling what will happen….

  12. dmmacilroy says:

    Dear Janet,

    Your story had the raw feel of life and sent chills up and down my spine. I can imagine no more terrible way to die. You made a great connection to the prompt and delivered an amazing story.




  13. Very well done. Good register, and you caught the language very well.

  14. draliman says:

    What a nasty way to go. The thought of being trapped by tyres while being set on fire is horrible, I despair of humanity sometimes 😦

    And no, your story didn’t suffer for your editing, it read fine.

    • Ali, thankfully these horrific things aren’t the norm, or even close, although what’s taking place in some parts of the world these days almost makes me retract that statement. I’m also thankful for the many more who stand for love and fairness and live those qualities daily.


  15. Well written piece of history. I grew up in SA and saw all this stuff up close (through the eyes of the media). Barbaric, as noted elsewhere above.

  16. Janet, Horrific. I saw a crime drama on TV, I think it was CSI Miami, where a woman killed her husband that way. If I ever saw anything like that in real life, I’m sure it would affect me the rest of my time on earth. This would be mob justice at its worst. Good story and well written. — Susan

  17. I had no idea! The things people do to one another! Well written and tight.

  18. plaridel says:

    i’d never heard of this gruesome practice. it should have been banned by now.

  19. rgayer55 says:

    The word “necklacing” is much too pretty a term for such grizzly vigilante violence. Couldn’t they just use tar & feathers? What a horrible way to die.

  20. That is a horrible death! Tires burn for eons. What kind of evil devises such plots?

  21. Maree Gallop says:

    Wow what a horrible practice. Hard to fathom really. A well written piece. It certainly evoked my emotions.

  22. brainsnorts says:

    I first learned above this watching the news during a Disney visit. Changed things for sure. Necessary though.

  23. Well, I can see why you didn’t write any songs to go along with this. Great history lesson from a awful time in history.

  24. wildbilbo says:

    Humanity at its finest… great story, highlights the brutality that mobs, or any angry gathering of people, are capable of.

    This was excellent.

  25. Honie Briggs says:

    A crushing bit of reality in this story, Janet. You really delivered the punch.

  26. Janet,
    this is quite a gruesome take on the prompt. Actually, I heard about necklacing back when I was a little kid and it scared me pretty bad then, not surprisingly. Not something I would ever want to witness in person.

  27. Alice Audrey says:

    How horrible. Great writing, but it certainly shows the bad side of the human race.

  28. Wow, Janet! I’d forgotten all about this horrible custom, but remember reading about it during the Apartheid era. It was always so disturbing! You’ve really brought the images back to life… thanks, I think. 😉

  29. Margaret says:

    Such a horrifying thing. I never cease to be amazed at how cruel people can be. Sensitively told – I think your strategy of telling it as a police report is a stroke of genius – and the character’s feelings come through strongly too.

  30. Bastet says:

    Dear Janet,

    thanks for keeping history alive … this is a gruesome story and it was a terrible time … we should try to keep in our collective memories the horrors we are capable of in the name of an ideal … hopefully to never fall into the same emotional destructive trap.

    Ciao, Georgia.

  31. Sarah Ann says:

    Well done on the spare, journalistic/ statement style. It was difficult to ‘like’ this post. You made a horrific act come alive in accessible and sensitive manner.

  32. Wow. Excellent story. Real gritty stuff.

  33. wmqcolby says:

    Yikes! This was ugly. The story didn’t suffer at all. Marvelous!

    Technical question: Do they call gasoline petrol there or is it just gasoline?

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