Mutilation suspects freed?

2008-07-10 00:00

While family members of three people whose bodies were mutilated at an Edendale funeral parlor are dealing with the shock, the suspects have allegedly mysteriously been released.

Family members of Khanyisile Dladla (25), from the Gcina area of Maqongqo outside Pietermaritzburg, spoke of their anguish at the shocking discovery on the day before her funeral that her eyes were missing.

They said only the arrest of the suspects and a trial to reveal the truth of what happened to the body parts will ease their pain.

However, The Witness learnt from Ntokozo Shange, the owner of Ndlelanhle Funeral Service in Edendale, where the mutilation took place, that the two suspects have allegedly been released from prison.

"The suspect called yesterday [Wednesday] to tell me that they were released. Today he came to me and told me that the court didn’t have evidence linking them to the crime," said Shange.

Shange said he is depressed by the fact that while the reputation of his business has been damaged, not enough is being done to solve the matter.

"Their release means that we are not going to find out what happened to the [removed body] parts."

Shange is the one who called police.

"I suspected that the two were involved because the other one is a night security guard who should have seen this happening.

"Another one acted suspiciously by refusing to attend a meeting on a Saturday, at which I wanted to question everyone about the incident. On Monday, he came to work to resign," said Shange.

Describing the mood after family and relatives discovered that Dladla’s eyes were missing, her 59-year-old grandfather Mhlaba Mkhize said it was a shocking moment, and the women wailed.

She died of natural causes at her home on June 26, and the body was collected by Izwi Labantu Funeral Service and kept for a week in the Ndlelanhle Funeral Service’s cold room.

"When Izwi Labantu brought her body home on Friday [July 4] night, we asked them about the holes on the body’s eye sockets, which they failed to answer.

"On Saturday morning [the day of the funeral] we re-examined the body and found that there were no eyes. There were also cuts on other parts of the body," said Mkhize.

He said police were called to examine the body, which led to the funeral being delayed till the evening.

"If the criminals have been arrested, it is a great relief to us. Now we are waiting to hear the truth about this disgusting act on our child’s body," said Dladla’s aunt, Dumisile Khize.

Dladla died a week after giving birth to a baby girl who died a few minutes after birth.

The other two mutilated bodies were those of Chayisile Hlengwa (53) and Thabani Mhlongo (35). They are from Mbumbulu and Umlazi in Durban respectively. Their bodies were kept in local mortuaries because they had died while employed in Pietermaritzburg.

Senior Superintendent Henry Budhram confirmed that police are still searching for the missing body parts with the help of sniffer dogs. He said the home of a local traditional healer was visited yesterday, but no body parts were found there.

Witness attempts to verify the release of the suspects yesterday with the police were unsuccessful.

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