Angry Pongola crowd demands release of ‘vigilantes’

2014-07-10 00:00

SEVERAL hundred people in Pongola faced-off with the police demanding the release of 15 suspects arrested earlier this week following the anger that erupted after a dismembered body of a child was discovered in a church.

The community had marched from the township to the city centre in anger after a meeting with the acting MEC for Transport, Community Safety and ­Liaison Sbongiseni Dhlomo failed to take place on time.

Dhlomo arrived almost two hours later than scheduled, and by the time he arrived residents had blocked off Mpangazitha Road, which leads to Ncontshane township.

The 15 suspects were arrested earlier this week for allegedly burning down the house where the severed body of Lungisani “Kiki” Ngubane (4) was found.

The protest action came on the same day that the SAPS released a statement claiming they had arrested a 51-year-old male — believed to be a Christian pastor — accused of murdering and dismembering Lungisani.

The body was found inside the St John’s Church, Ncontshane township, on Saturday after the toddler was reported missing last week.

The suspect is expected to appear in the Pongola Magistrate’s Court either today or tomorrow.

But the Ncontshane residents — many of them youths — are demanding the release of the suspects accused of arson.

On Sunday night, an unknown group torched the house of the pastor.

Community leader Mduduzi Shongwe said the murder has “made them hate pastors”.

“We do not trust pastors at all. The pastor of the church is not from this area. He seems to be protected by authorities. We cannot understand why it took four days after the finding of the toddler’s body for him to be arrested,” he said.

The protesters caught on video the ­entire proceedings while marshals on quad bikes monitored the protest.

Dhlomo, who said he was late after ­attending to a clinic that had been torched in Zakheni near Ladysmith, tried to urge the residents to go back to the hall. The stand-off continued late into the afternoon with the two sides trying to broker a solution.

Community leaders said residents were mostly angry because Dhlomo was hours late for a scheduled meeting with the them to discuss the murder and the subsequent vigilantism that has ­engulfed the area.

“We sat at the community hall for more than two hours waiting to be addressed … they are now telling us that we should go back to the hall, we will not go back without those arrested,” said Sphamandla Thabethe.

The residents proposed that the 15 ­arrested be released and Dhlomo said was in contact with both the ministry of police as well as correctional services.

However, he refused to address the ­residents further on the road side stating that it was a risk to public safety.

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