Mom testifies in muti murder trial

2014-02-26 07:44


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Mbombela - A 6-year-old Mpumalanga girl was left in the care of a woman who was later charged with the child's muti murder, a court heard on Tuesday.

The child's mother, Goodness Mahlalela, 33, from Masibekela, was testifying in the Nelspruit circuit of the Mpumalanga High Court, a Sapa correspondent reported.

Five accused - Jeremiah Ngwenya, 30, Judas Mandlazi, 25, Stella Zulu, 49, Sifiso Vilakazi, 25, and Thabile Mnisi, 33 - have pleaded not guilty to murder charges and conspiracy to commit murder.


Mahlalela told the court that her child, Dimakatso Shabangu, went missing on 21 April 2009 while in the care of her child minder, Mnisi.

"When I came back from picking umbitfo (leafy vegetables). I asked Thabile where my child was so that she could eat. She told me that she left the child behind when she went to Sibange [a village outside Komatipoort]," the mother said.

"She said the child had tried to follow her but she instructed her to go back home. Then I said maybe her father took her with him after finding that she was home alone."

Mahlalela said Mnisi suggested the next day that they go to the child's father's place to get the child.

"We went there but did not find her, so she suggested we go to Dimakatso's uncle's place where we did not find her. She [Mnisi] then suggested we go report the matter to the headman," the mother told the court.

"The headman asked Thabile how she could tell the child to go back home knowing her mother was not there. And she replied that she would never kill any child because she was taking care of children."

Mahlalela told Judge Collin Lamont that she hired Mnisi out of the goodness of her heart, but was shocked to learn that she might be involved in her daughter's horrific death.

"I hired her because she was my neighbour and I knew her family's situation," said Mahlalela.

Gruesome discovery

Witness Sifiso Comfort Mbokodo, 29, related how he and his late brother made the gruesome discovery of Dimakatso's body on 25 April of that year.

"I was crossing the river to Sibange and I saw something in the river. After moving closer, I found that it was a child and I tried to see but I could not identify the child clearly," Mbokodo said.

"She was wearing something red. The child was dead and I went over, then I called police and they did not come."

He tried to get transport to the police station.

"I got to the police station and reported the matter. When we arrived we found her in the same place where I left her and the police took her. She was still in the water," Mbokodo said.

Other witnesses included Tonga magistrate Sibonisiwe Sibuyi and Ntsikazi magistrate Snowy Masango, who previously presided over the case.

Mnisi and Vilakazi are out on R3 000 bail while Zulu, Ngwenya and Mandlazi are out on R5 000 bail.

The trial continues.

Read more on:    mbombela  |  ritual crimes

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