A Vervet monkey was burnt to death in Kagiso informal settlement, west of Johannesburg, after residents believed it was linked to witchcraft, The Star newspaper reported on Monday.
"In an incident described as 'barbaric' by the Community-led Animal Welfare (Claw), residents chanted 'kill that witch!'," The Star said.
It reported that the monkey wandered into the settlement last week Monday, 23 May, and was pelted with stones, shot at by police, and then burnt to death.
The monkey fled the mob and temporarily found shelter in a tree, but was pulled out, put in a bucket and doused in petrol.
"Someone struck a match. (The monkey) got out of the bucket and dropped down dead. They continued throwing stones at it," Kagiso resident, Tebogo Moswetsi was reported as saying.
Moswetsi was woken up by a friends on Monday morning and told about the monkey, they said it was going around Kagiso "talking to people".
He said he joined in the case as he was curious. He was the resident who climbed the tree and brought the monkey down.
"I feel guilty, I shouldn't have taken it down from that tree. I dropped it down after someone poured petrol on it. I had no choice," Moswetsi said.
Claw manager, Cora Bailey, arrived at the scene and said she was devastated.
"I felt devastated. You could barely tell it had been a living creature. There were very small children who looked very confused and frightened."
Bailey explained animals fell victim to superstition, especially because they did not understand that such animals wander into townships because their natural habitat was destroyed or it was separated from its troop.
"It was a quest to find a family," she said.
Johannes Bapela, also a Kagiso resident, called Bailey after calls to police failed to deliver results, he told The Star.
"They beat it up, then set it alight. I couldn't sleep that night because it was too traumatic," he said.
He called the claims of witchcraft "totally baseless" and added it was more mob mentality than anything else.
Warrant Officer Solomon Sibiya could not confirm that police shot at the animal, the newspaper reported.
"I enquired, but I don't think it's something that was reported," Sibiya was quoted as saying.