‘Swinging game’ kills girl

2019-02-27 06:01
Luthando Makhathini (10) died while playing the ‘swinging game’ at the weekend. In the background is the rondavel where she was found hanging.

Luthando Makhathini (10) died while playing the ‘swinging game’ at the weekend. In the background is the rondavel where she was found hanging.

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THE family of a 10-year-old girl who was killed while playing something termed the “swinging game” at the weekend want answers about the circumstances leading to her death.

The Grade 5 Izwe Lesizwe Primary pupil, Luthando Makhathini, was found hanging from the open roof of her neighbour’s unused rondavel in Imbali Unit AA at around 2 pm on Sunday by some of her friends after they allegedly played the game.

Speaking to The Witness, the Echo’s sister publication, yesterday from her Haniville home, Luthando’s grandmother, Nomusa Mkhize said they were told that Luthando, and a group of other children were playing the “swinging game” at a friend’s house in Imbali when she died.

“I have never heard that children play such deadly games. I don’t even know where they got it [the idea] from.”

She said they were told that the game involved the children tying a rope onto the roof beams and making a loop at the hanging end.

They would then stand on an empty tin with their heads inside the loop and kick the tin away.

They then swing while pushing the rope away from their necks to prevent them from choking.

“They swing for a while then the other kids bring back the tin under the swinging person’s feet,” she said.

Mkhize said the family were told that a seven-year-old girl, who was swinging before Luthando, had suffered an epileptic fit.

“They had reported to adults at that house that the child was playing the swinging game when she suffered from an epileptic fit, but no one intervened and put an end to this silly game,” said Mkhize.

“Luthando helped get her [the seven-year-old] down but when it was her turn to swing the rest of the children were apparently called to wash their school jerseys and she was left swinging and was later found dead,” she said.

“The police statement says the children found her hanging and one child took her down, but that makes absolutely no sense.

“All those children are small and could not possibly carry another child who is hanging from the roof,” said Mkhize.

Nomfundo, Luthando’s mother, said when other family members got to the neighbour’s house to inquire what happened they were told different stories.

“At first, we were told that my child fell and died, then the story changed to the swinging game when the police were involved.”

The family say they want answers.

“We are not blaming anyone, but we want the truth.

We won’t find closure until we know what really happened,” said Nomfundo.

Mkhize said they were hopeful that the police investigations will reveal exactly what happened so that the family can find peace.

“We also want to warn parents and schools to keep a close eye on their children and make sure they don’t play these silly games,” she said.

Another neighbour, who asked not to be named, said she had overheard her young children talking about the same game that killed Luthando, and they said they should “also play it to see who will die first”.

“I was so shocked. I shouted at them and told them I will smack them if they even think about playing this deadly game.

“I honestly don’t know what is wrong with these children,” she said.

Luthando was described as a “smart girl” who would have had a bright future.

She will be laid to rest in Haniville on Saturday.

Another concerned resident, who asked not to be named, urged parents and guardians to ensure that their children do not play dangerous and deadly games.

The man said while driving in Haniville he has, on various occasions, witnessed children playing this game.

“It’s the most horrific game I’ve ever seen. They tie a rope around the tree and hang by the head while trying to push the rope away from their necks.

“I’ve seen this a couple of times and when I shout and tell these kids to stop they say ‘sidlala ngojwijwi’ [we are playing with the swing] and they carry on. It has to come to an end before more children are killed,” he said.

Pietermaritzburg police spokesperson Sergeant Mthokozisi Ngobese said they have opened an inquest in connection with Luthando’s death.

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