Brothers confess to butchering 8 relatives for 'using witchcraft'

Pietermaritzburg - Two Scottburgh district brothers butchered eight of their relatives - including three toddlers - because they believed their family members used witchcraft.

Brothers Thulani, 28, and Sibonelo Mncwabe, 26, admitted to the murders in the Pietermaritzburg High Court on Wednesday - eight days after the killings.

The brothers also admitted to the court that they had planned the killings.

Armed with bush knives, the brothers went to the rondavel where some of the relatives slept.

They then set fire to the building. When one of the relatives came to the door, the brothers launched an attack, killing him.

They then went to where their other seven victims were sleeping and, in the dark, hacked them all to death.

Apart from the toddlers, the other victims were aged between 12 and 70.

Defence advocate Trisha Moonsamy appealed to the court to not sentence the brothers to life terms - the prescribed sentence for planning and executing murders.

She said ,despite the gravity of the crimes, there were substantial and compelling circumstances that the court should consider. 

Among them was that they did not deny their guilt, were first offenders, worked and supported their aged parents and were candidates for rehabilitation.

Prosecutor Mbongeni Mthembu said, however, that the brothers butchered their own relatives and knew that there were infants of three, two and one years old among them.

Judge Jacqueline Henriques accepted their guilty pleas and said she would pass sentence on Thursday afternoon.

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