Mpola massacre: neighbours arrested after police uncover witchcraft fear

2010-12-17 00:00

THE hunt for the suspects behind the massacre of eight members of one family in Mpola, Dassenhoek, near Pinetown on Monday ended close to home as police arrested the neighbours of the victims on Wednesday evening.

The suspects, a 21-year-old man and his 38-year-old mother, will be named during their court appearance today. They are the neighbours of the victims whose badly burnt bodies were discovered in their two-room house in the early hours of Monday.

Police spokesperson Lieutenant Colonel Vincent Mdunge said the police have linked the killings to suspicion of witchcraft.

He said the suspects were arrested at about 6 pm in the nearby area of Ntshelim­nyama where they were hiding.

“This murder was a result of a very pathetic suspicion of witchcraft.

“The accused family were suspecting the victims’ family of having stolen a sheepskin for witchcraft purposes during a cleansing ceremony in March,” said Mdunge.

The Mpola massacre investigation seems to have produced quick and clean results, in contrast to investigations after the killings in Ntshongweni and Tshelimnyama in October and November. After the earlier killings, only one person was arrested after a long search, and two other suspects were killed in shoot-outs with police.

Mdunge said “hard-working” members of the organised crime unit in Cato Manor collaborated with Mpola residents, forensic experts and pathologists before making the latest arrests.

From day one the investigation “continued non-stop day and night”, Mdunge said.

He said the victims and the accused family were close before the suspicions of witchcraft emerged.

“But the hatred started when the partriarch of the accused family died of natural causes. The … family accused the victims of having cursed him,” said Mdunge.

“The witchcraft suspicions became stronger when the skin of a sheep, which had been slaughtered for the dead man’s cleansing ceremony, disappeared.”

Hawks spokesperson McIntosh Polela said yesterday that the police will have a series of meetings with the two families to try and resolve their disputes.

The deceased are Andiswa (nine months), Owami (five), Sphesihle (seven), Njabulo (10) and their parents Sindi Khumalo (27) and Xolani Ngcobo (28). The grandparents, Coshela (48) and Ntombenhle (58) Mabhida, were also killed.

 

Joe Khumalo, whose sister Nelisiwe Khumalo (16) escaped death by spending a night at her boyfriend’s house, expressed delight on hearing about the arrests.

“This shows that police have done their work to the best of their ability.

“Now we will know why every­one in that house was killed,” said Khumalo.

Meanwhile, Mdunge said Thulani Ndlovu (22) who pleaded guilty to the massacre of six family members in Ntshongweni in October, is waiting behind bars for the date of his hearing for sentencing in the high court in Durban.

 

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