Motive for family massacre a mystery

2009-07-13 00:00

ALLEGATIONS abound regarding the motive behind the “execution style” killing of six male members of an Msinga family, near Greytown on Saturday morning.

The bodies of the six men were found in the early hours of Saturday morning. A family feud, factional fighting between the ANC and the IFP in the area and taxi violence have been rumoured to be potential reasons behind the killings.

According to police spokesman Senior Superintendent Henry Budhram, gunmen are believed to have forced their way into the victims’ home in the Ngqosheni district while they were asleep.

Budhram said that investigations at the scene established that after the gunmen gained entry, they forced the victims to lie down on the ground next to each other before they were shot, execution-style.

The six men were found dead at the scene. They have been identified as Mabele Mbatha (50), Thengokuhle Mbatha (20), Senzo Mbatha (21), Zici Sthembiso Mbatha (29), Mandlawapheli Mbatha (25) and Sigidi Bongani Sokhela (24). Another family member, Zendile Mbatha, was allegedly taken to hospital with gunshot wounds.

Budhram said expended AK47, R1 and R5 cartridges were found at the scene, confirming that the gunmen were armed with rifles. The motive for the shooting is unknown.

A Sunday newspaper quoted an inkosi saying he believes the attack was part of an ongoing feud within the Mbatha family that has resulted in the death of relatives in the past. The feud allegedly began as a result of stock theft and robbery in the area. A member of the Mbatha family was fingered and split the family into two, it is alleged.

The MEC for Transport, Community Safety and Liaison, Bheki Cele, condemned the brutal killing of members of the Mbatha family.

Cele said political factionalism has not been ruled out. “So far the motive for this brutal massacre is not clear, but police have not ruled out the element of faction fighting, which has crippled the Msinga area in the past,” said Cele.

Police are following a promising lead, said Cele. adding that the suspects are thought to have fled to another province.

“Such acts of cruelty have no place in our society. I would like to assure the public that the police will not rest until the suspects are brought to book and to account for their barbaric deed,” he added before passing his condolences to the families.

The Witness has learnt that taxi violence that has ravaged Msinga for years also cannot be ruled out as a motive. A source said the Mbatha family has links with the taxi industry.

Budhram appealed to anyone with information to call Superintendent Bheki Mlambo of SAPS Msinga at 033 493 0924 or 082 417 6508 or Crime Stop at 08600 10111.

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