Fears grow for Ladysmith’s elderly after woman (71) shot dead

2013-05-09 00:00

RESIDENTS and the municipality of Emnambithi/Ladysmith are trying to find ways how best to protect elderly women from criminals.

On Tuesday evening Catherine Nhlapho (71) was shot dead at her home in Roosboom, Ladysmith.

Nhlapho was asleep in the same room as her 50-year-old son, who is physically and mentally challenged, and her grandchildren, aged six and 14, when an unknown number of strangers forced their way into the house.

Nhlapho’s daughter, Khosi, was on night duty at Ladysmith provincial hospital when her mother was attacked.

She told The Witness she received a call-back message from her 14-year-old daughter at around midnight on Tuesday.

She phoned back and was told to rush home immediately.

“My daughter said something had happened to Gogo. I rushed home and … the police were there, and my mother was dead. She was shot twice while in bed,” said the distraught Nhlapho.

She said her mother was sharing the bed with the six-year-old. The 14-year-old was in the adjacent bed and her disabled brother was on a mattress on the floor.

“My daughter told me that she heard my mother saying ‘I don’t have any money with me’.

“And then a gunshot rang out, and another one followed. The intruders left with a radio.

“She could not identify them as it was dark and she had covered her face with blankets,” she said.

The other family members were not harmed and arrangements were made for them to go for counselling.

Attacks on elderly women in various parts of the province have been a concern since last year. Late last year, Qeda Sithole (75), who lived alone, was badly beaten in her home in St Chad’s in Ladysmith.

Her left eye was gouged out of its socket and it is believed that she was raped. A handbag, money, and an ID book were stolen from the house.

Yesterday morning, Emnambithi/Ladysmith Municipal Mayor Vincent Madlala visited the Nhlapho family.

Madlala said the rape and murder of elderly women was becoming a trend that needed urgent attention.

He said various ideas to safeguard pensioners were being shared with the provincial Department of Community Safety and Liaison and the police.

Attempts to get comment from the department were unsuccessful.

Madlala couldn’t say when a working idea would be implemented.

“Among the ideas there’s one to move all elderly people from their communities into old aged homes. There’s another one to form clubs for the elderly within communities …”

The mayor said a team would visit other rural areas around Ladysmith to get ideas from the residents.

“We have noted with concern young people on a crusade to rape and murder our mothers and grandmothers. We believe that the perpetrators are driven by woonga, dagga and other drugs to commit these heinous crimes,” said Madlala.

Provincial police spokesperson Captain Thulani Zwane said there was still no arrest in Sithole’s case and the investigation was continuing.

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