Head in freezer triggers rampage
Sphumelele Mngoma, The Witness
Pietermaritzburg - The arrest of a traditional healer in Mafakathini linked to the murder of Loyiso Jokweni, 18, whose head was discovered in a freezer at a house in the France township on Friday, triggered a vigilante rampage during which the community looted and vandalised the healer’s home and shops.
On Friday, police arrested a 30-year-old man and took his girlfriend in for questioning after Jokweni’s head was allegedly found in a freezer in their home in France.
Jokweni’s headless body was found on January 17. The youth, from Inanda, had been visiting his sister.
His family reported him missing on December 28 after he had failed to return to his sister’s house on Christmas Day. The teen had allegedly left with three boys from the area.
The boys allegedly fled the area after being questioned by the Jokweni family on his whereabouts.
Jokweni’s head was allegedly found in a plastic dish with a frozen snake as well as other items which police could not immediately identify because of the ice.
Police say these could be intestines, but they are awaiting the results of forensic tests.
They arrested the suspect, who allegedly told them that he had killed Jokweni on the instructions of the 47-year-old traditional healer, whose name is known to The Witness.
When this news reached the Mafakathini community, where the traditional healer is based, local residents ran amok, stoning, vandalising and looting the healer’s properties and setting his home alight.
The healer’s properties, which include a butchery, a tavern and a supermarket, are hired out to local businesspeople.
According to one Mafakathini resident, a car with a loudhailer went around the community on Saturday alerting people to the traditional healer’s arrest.
The information allegedly passed to people was that the healer had been found with four human heads when police arrested him.
The community allegedly met at a community hall before going on the rampage. Meat, liquor and other food items were allegedly stolen from the healer’s house, as were a television set, fridges and furniture. Police were pelted with stones by the mob, who reportedly were mostly youths.
One of the residents, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said they saw the looting and torching of property from a distance.
“I used to hear that he kept all sorts of animals and snakes that are used for muthi, but this is scary. I heard that people were pulling out private parts, people’s heads and livers, which were stored away in shelves and freezers, when they went into his house.
“Apparently people have to go into this big hole dug in one of the huts when they consult him,” added the resident.
A source described the investigation as dynamic. It is believed that the traditional healer threatened police with “tokoloshes” when they went to arrest him.
The healer has been described as intimidating.
The healer’s wife, who spoke freely to The Witness, said they were hurt that the community did not bother to ask the police whether there was any truth in the allegations that human body parts had been found in their home.
She said they kept animal parts, but had told the police when they raided their home that they were free to take any flesh they found for testing.
She said people came to consult the healer for various reasons, including health problems, success in their studies or seeking luck in business and relationships.
The wife admitted that sometimes their clients are required to jump into a hole containing a python and sleep there. Pythons apparently bring good luck. A snake found at the house was taken to the SPCA.
Among the couple’s vehicles are a Nissan Pathfinder and a Hummer.