Councillor who set 'witch’s' house alight sent to jail

2013-11-07 16:59

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The president of a political party in Mpumalanga, who is also a councillor, has been sentenced for the second time this week on charges relating to terrorising community members.

Delta Mokoena – the president of the Bushbuckridge Residents Association (BRA) and a councillor in the Bushbuckridge local council – was sentenced to two years imprisonment today in the Acornhoek Magistrates’ Court for accusing a resident of practising witchcraft and setting his house alight.

Mokoena and a mob torched 66-year-old Ranson Mashile’s house in Ga-Boelang village outside Bushbuckridge in August 2012 after accusing him of bewitching his close friend and killing him.

Mokoena has been sleeping in the Acornhoek police station since August 19 2012.

Mpumalanga police spokesperson, Leonard Hlathi, said: “We want to assure the Bushbuckridge community that we’re dealing with these cases. We know that they’re losing confidence in the police, but there are still more cases against [Mokoena] that are coming up in court.”

Mokoena and BRA members have, according to residents, been orchestrating a reign of terror in the area – inciting mobs to set houses alight and evict people accused of practising witchcraft, satanism and committing crime.

It is estimated that more than 20 houses have been set alight following these accusations. Some schools were also shut down because of witchcraft and satanism accusations against teachers and pupils.

On Tuesday, the same court sentenced Mokoena to three years for intimidation after he unlawfully evicted Aaron Zitha (49) from his home in Ga-Boelang village back in 2010.

He instructed Zitha to leave his house after claiming that his 18-year-old son was a thief.

If Zitha refused to leave, Mokoena threatened to invite the community to burn him and his house.

BRA secretary, Cleopus Maunye, said they were appealing in both cases.

“The appeal on the first case is already being processed,” Maunye said.

BRA was formed by disgruntled ANC members just before the 2011 municipal elections.

Hlathi said Mokoena would appear in a third case on December 3 in the Acornhoek Magistrates’ Court.

Mokoena and his accomplices allegedly kidnapped a young man on March 3 and assaulted him in the BRA’s offices, said Hlathi.

An ANC member, who did not want to be named because he is not allowed to speak to the media, said: “BRA has nothing to offer politically, so they want to remain relevant through inciting mobs to terrorise communities on senseless gossip.”

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