Accused ‘witch’ saved from angry Vryheid mob

2008-06-11 00:00

An elderly woman accused of witchcraft was rescued from an angry mob that threatened to burn down her house in Mondlo near Vryheid.

A special task team comprising of the provincial SAPS, tribal council and the human rights desk from the office of the Premier defused a situation that could have left an 84-year-old woman homeless or dead.

Tempers were high as community members gathered at the tribal court where a sentence was expected to be handed down. Some were calling for the accused, Ntombikayise Zulu, to be expelled from the community.

Zulu lives with her two grandsons aged nine and seven. The nine-year-old boy has left home following the allegations.

Zulu is accused of witchcraft because a squirrel was found at a neighbour’s homestead. The neighbour, Thokozani Sibiya, said Zulu’s grandson told the police that Zulu was a witch and uses the squirrel to bewitch other people.

It is believed the community’s anger was stoked by the boy’s apparently casual confession.

The task team was led by the head of the Premier’s Office human rights desk, Nonhlanhla Mkhize.

SAPS spokesman Superintendent Vincent Mngomezulu and the Othaka tribal inkosi, Johan Mdlalose, formed part of the delegation.

“Everyone has a right to life, every child has a right to welfare and as government we have an obligation to educate communities about human rights,” said Mkhize.

Mdlalose pleaded with the community to live peacefully with each other.

“I appeal to the community once again to uphold peace in our area. None of you should attack this woman; I will make sure that she is under guard.”

Zulu said she and her family have received numerous threats in the community.

“I am being accused of something I don’t know, I live in fear because of these accusations.”

A meeting is to be held between the Zulu and Sibiya families in an attempt to resolve the issue.

“We hope that when the tribal council meets to discuss this issue on July 2, the families will have made peace,” said Mdlalose.

Mkhize said the boy will be taken to a home of safety where he will receive counselling.

sandilez@witness.co.za

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