Police closing the net on family killers

2010-12-14 00:00

THE net is set to close soon on the killers suspected of murdering eight members of one family whose bodies were found burnt beyond recognition in the Mariannhill area outside Durban in the early hours of yesterday morning, say the police.

One of the dead was a nine-month-old baby, Andiswa Khumalo.

The other victims were five-year-old Owami, Sphesihle (7), Njabulo (10), and the parents of the children, Sindi Khumalo (27) and Xolani Ngcobo (28).

They were shot dead together with Sindi’s parents, Coshela Mabhida (48) and his wife, Ntombenhle Mabhida (58), at about midnight.

Their bodies were burnt in their two-room house.

The murder happened in Mpola area, in the same ward as Tshelimnyama where four members of a family were killed in early November.

Not far away is Ntshongweni, where six members of another family, including a two-year-old baby, were killed on October 25.

One of the police officers at the Mpola scene said police have found leads that could help them solve the latest murders.

The officer spoke to The Witness soon after police had taken a local man, who was seen smoking dagga at the scene, for questioning.

“We are sure that very soon we will make the arrest. We took someone for questioning and released him later,” said the officer.

Neighbours said the man who was briefly detained is a menace to the community.

They said he had been arrested on different occasions for rape, attempted murder and possession of an illegal firearm.

Two empty petrol containers were found just outside the yard of the house.

Nelisiwe Khumalo (16), who left the house to visit a friend immediately before the incident, said she heard two gunshots from a distance late at night.

“It was coming from this direction, but I didn’t pay much attention to it,” she said.

“The thought that I also nearly died leaves me very scared and shocked,” she said.

Forensic investigators from Pretoria and Durban fire investigators arrived to inspect the scene.

A neighbour, Lucky Simelane, said it was 4 am when he was awakened by the noise made by people at the fire.

“There was nothing we could do because the bodies were already ashes,” said Simelane.

Police spokesperson Lieutenant Colonel Vincent Mdunge declined to speculate about the investigation.

“We should rather wait for the Durban organised crime unit to conclude its investigation,” he said.

“At this stage we think that this is isolated from the previous murders.”

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