Two brothers found murdered

2008-04-24 00:00

The battered bodies of two Howick brothers who have been missing since Saturday were discovered on the banks of Umkhomazi River in Impendle yesterday.

It is suspected that Mlamuli and Kwanele Makhaye’s murders may be connected to stock theft, which is rife in the Impendle rural area. Their bodies were airlifted by a Durban-based SAPS helicopter from the banks of the river in the Nzinga village area, after a five-day search.

The search started after they disappeared at about 5 pm on Saturday. They were last seen being chased by locals, who accused them of stock theft after they were spotted driving cattle.

Police started suspecting they had been murdered after local children herding cattle discovered sandals next to what appeared to be human tissue at the top of the mountain.

"I do not really know the men, but when I saw their bodies being lifted from the river I was shocked. I’m told they are from kwaChief (outside Howick). I don’t know what they were doing here because no one knew them. But they were seen driving the cattle," said local resident Siphiwe Zuma.

Their father was too distraught to speak to The Witness.

However, The Witness learnt that the brothers were in the area to search for stolen cattle belonging to their relative, local businessman Thabo Zuma.

It is understood that Zuma spoke to them by cellphone after they found the animals in Nzinga. But the conversation, in which they told him how they discovered the animals, was cut short when the phone suddenly went dead. Zuma declined to comment on their deaths.

When they were chased, the brothers were on horseback. Locals who witnessed the chase heard gunshots.

Police said one man was shot in the forehead and the otherin the neck, and that both their bodies had hack wounds.

A group of local residents stood in shock as the bodies were lifted from the river covered in white plastic bags. They were then transported to a local mortuary.

"I know that their family left Impendle many years ago to settle in Howick," said another local.

Impendle police station commissioner Captain Themba Hlongwane said the search involved local residents and the deceased’s family from Howick.

"We started searching on top of the mountain at about 9 pm on Saturday. On the next day we invited police from Howick and Lotheni to help us with the search.

"On Monday we requested a SAPS helicopter from Durban, but it couldn’t help since there was snow. All police in Impendle were dispatched to the area to continue with the search. Today the helicopter arrived and the bodies were spotted on the banks of the Umkhomazi River," said Hlongwane.

Hlongwane said stock theft is common in the area, but kangaroo courts do not exist.

"We have all the evidence about the murder. Very soon we are going to make an arrest," said Hlongwane.

bhans@witness.co.za

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