Witchcraft case: gory details of couple’s murder

2011-01-26 00:00

A SNATHING couple, Tholakele (50) and Themba Shezi (58), who were beaten, doused with petrol and set alight over allegations of involvment in witchcraft on December 1 last year, are believed to have been alive when the torching took place.

This evidence was given yesterday by Warrant Officer Sipho Bhengu when he opposed the granting of bail to nine suspects charged with murder and arson.

All nine were refused bail by magistrate Divesh Mootheram.

The nine are: Siyabonga Shoba (26), Nolwazi Mayeza (23), Mxolisi Kubeka (28), Andile Sibi (32), Mondli Dumakude (37), Mbongeni Mtolo (22), Mzwandile Mbatha (25), a 16-year-old youth, and Xolani Khanyeza (27).

A 10th accused, Ellias Ngcobo (66) — a local sangoma — is already on bail of R1 500 as the state did not oppose his bail.

Responding to questions by prosecutor Rene Padayachee, Bhengu said Ngcobo was not present at the scene of the murders.

He said Siyabonga Shoba and others allegedly approached Ngcobo and asked him to perform a ritual to reveal the name of the “witch or wizard” responsible for the death of a young boy, Mthokozisi Mpanza.

Mpanza, whose body was found in a stream with cuts on the face and arms, was related to Shoba, the policeman said.

He said the sangoma did not give the group a name, but described the alleged “witch” after communicating with the ancestors. He had described her as a “short, dark woman wearing red woollen strings on both arms and legs”, who resided across the river and sold brooms.

“Before they left he gave them medicinal herbs to bath with and make them strong,” said Bhengu.

At a subsequent meeting to provide feedback to the community, Shoba allegedly “misled” the community by telling them the sangoma had named Tholakele Shezi as the “witch”.

Community members sent to fetch her found that she was in town, and waited for her return by taxi. The taxi was then instructed to drive straight to the meeting place at the old chief’s kraal. Her husband was also brought to the scene.

Witnesses to the incident claim Shoba then told the people they could “do whatever they like” to the victims and the assault started.

Bhengu said Tholakele Shezi was struck on the head several times with a knobkierrie by Khanyeza until she fell down. All the other accused then also began hitting her and her husband with sticks.

Mxolisi Kubeka allegedly doused the couple with petrol and set them alight.

Bhengu said that according to the witnesses the couple were badly injured but still alive when they were burned.

The couple’s 10-year-old son allegedly came from school to find his parents dead and both their houses on fire.

The Witness was told the boy is being cared for by a relative.

The case has been postponed to February 8.

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