Frightened locals call Swazi sangoma to sniff out man-eater

2011-02-15 00:00

ANXIETY and fear of death have forced the residents of Paulpietersburg in northern KwaZulu-Natal to turn to a Swaziland sangoma for help, following the recent killings of two men whose naked bodies were found with teeth marks on them.

The deceased were among five people who have been attacked in a similar manner in Dumbe location between January 31 and last Tuesday. Three victims survived and were taken to various hospitals around the province.

The deceased are Bonginkosi Simelane (31) and Ndumo Nene (22), while the survivors are Mazwi Maliba, Sibusiso Mthwethwa and Mbuyiseni Mthembu (ages unknown). Mthembu is still in Grey’s Hospital in Pietermaritzburg while the other bite victims have been discharged.

Local residents called in sangoma Fakude because they believe that a person is behind the brutal attacks.

Fakude, whose first name is not known to The Witness, was supposed to reveal who or what is behind the attack on Sunday.

However, local ward councillor Ilco Mbatha said police and community leaders advised Fakude against conducting his prediction in the presence of hundreds of local residents who had gathered at a local sports field.

“As a result we postponed umhlahlo (a sangoma’s prediction) and he will return in a week’s time to do this only in the presence of community leaders to avoid violence.

“Some locals made threats that a person who will be pointed out by the sangoma will be burnt to death with his whole family,” said Mbatha.

Mbatha said he also believes that the killer is a person.

He said it would be premature for The Witness to talk to Fakude because he had not yet made his findings.

Police spokesperson Lieutenant-Colonel Vincent Mdunge told The Witness on Sunday that people invited the sangoma “out of anxiety”.

However, Mdunge said police are not going to rely on what the sangoma’s findings are when doing their investigation.

“South African law does not work with traditional healers,” he said.

He also said that police have been deployed in large numbers to monitor the situation in the area.

He said that the victims, who are all men, were attacked during the night. He said the deceased went missing for days before their bodies were found. He said the attacked survivors have all denied that a human inflicted the bites.

“One of the survivors said he was attacked by a pack of dogs, while others said it was a strange animal,” he said on Friday.

He added that it is possible for an animal to leave a person naked after an attack.

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