Healer under fire

2011-05-24 00:00

MURDER and kidnapping charges have been withdrawn against midlands traditional healer Mduduzi Manqele, but people in his area are still angry and suspicious.

Manqele (48) left Pietermaritzburg Magistrate’s Court a happy man on Thursday and is preparing to start his life over again. He has even twice visited the Mafakathini area outside Howick, where he is a headman, to meet community members.

It is in this rural area where a large crowd burnt down his 10 shops and double-storey house soon after he was arrested with Roger Thusi (31) for the murder of 18-year-old Loyiso Jokweni, whose head was found in Thusi’s fridge in the France area outside Imbali early this year.

Yesterday some Mafakathini residents said they did not want him back. One of them was Thola Dlungwana, who runs a crèche and tuck-shop.

“If he comes back our children won’t be safe because this man is a murderer. What I saw in his house with my own eyes convinces me that he is a murderer. Maybe it is because of his strong muthi that he escaped the charges,” said Dlungwana.

Other local people expressed similar sentiments, although they did not want their names revealed.

There are those, however, who believe in Manqele’s innocence.

“Manqele should come back to the area because he is a good man. He provided us with employment and close-by shops.

“I worked for him and there are lots of other people in the area who liked him,” said a young woman, who asked to remain anonymous for fear of intimidation.

Talking to The Witness in his Merrivale house yesterday afternoon, Manqele expressed his delight about the dropped charges.

He is still consulting with patients.

“After having gone through the difficult times I appreciate that the truth has finally came out. I would like to thank the community of Mafakathini for supporting me.

“The South African justice system demonstrated that it has God in it,” he said.

He said he forgives Thusi for implicating him in the murder.

After Manqele was arrested rumours about him spread in the area like wildfire. Some residents said they went into his house and saw human testicles, fingers and intestines, and they did not want him back in the area.

“I heal people, but not with human tissues. I have nothing to do with killing people,” Manqele said.

“When this boy [Thusi] pointed me to the police I thought he was making a bad joke and hoped that he was going to change his statement.

“While in prison I cried non-stop. Warders even locked me in an isolated cell because I could not handle lots of question from prisoners, who respected me as their good traditional healer,” he said.

He said he is a card-carrying ANC member. He said certain politicians from other parties used his name to campaign against his party’s candidates.

When he was back at his house and businesses in Mafakathini, the sound of hammers could be heard from a distance as workers repaired the damage in preparation for his return.

“I must go back to Mafakathini to open my businesses because people need me,” Manqele said.

His 45-year-old wife, Busisiwe MaKhumalo-Manqele, stands by him. She said the publicity very badly affected their six children, aged from five to 23.

“In school my children were teased about this.

“As for me I don’t pay attention to what people are saying,” said MaKhumalo-Manqele.

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