Murder at dump site

2019-12-04 16:26
Aarone Limo (in the red shirt) and waste-pickers help the forensic pathology team carry the body of his cousin, Khabutiele Moahloli, from where he was found murdered at the New England Road landfill site on Tuesday morning.

Aarone Limo (in the red shirt) and waste-pickers help the forensic pathology team carry the body of his cousin, Khabutiele Moahloli, from where he was found murdered at the New England Road landfill site on Tuesday morning. (Moeketsi Mamane)

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Fear has gripped waste-pickers at the New England Road landfill site following the suspected muti witchcraft murder of Khabutiele Moahloli (43), who was found with his throat slit and eyes gouged out.

The body of Moahloli was discovered by fellow waste-pickers on Tuesday morning who then alerted his cousin, Aarone Limo. Speaking to The Witness next to the gruesome scene, Limo said Moahloli did not come home to Sobantu on Monday evening but he was not concerned because his cousin normally worked the night shift.

“He sometimes worked at night to try and collect more recyclables so that he could make a bit more cash, especially on a slow week. But he is not the only one that does that, there are usually about 30 people working at night so we thought it was safe because there were others around,” said Limo.

He said Moahloli had worked as waste picker since he arrived from Lesotho in 2011. His wife and two daughters live in Gauteng and Limo said he often went there to visit them.

He said his cousin got along with everyone so he did not understand why someone would want to kill him.

“They also removed his teeth and eyes. I don’t know whether they did that when he was still alive or when he was already dead but I hope it was the latter.”

Friend to both the cousins, Maatsi Mofokeng, shared the fellow waste-pickers’ suspicions that Moahloli’s murder could be related to witchcraft because of the gouging of the eyes and removal of the teeth. “It was obviously not a robbery because they didn’t even take his wedding ring, which was probably the most valuable thing he had on his body,” said Mofokeng.

There were also questions about where the killing actually happened because there was very little blood where Moahloli’s body was found.

Waste-pickers who worked with Moahloli feared that they could be targeted for muti killings because they were considered a nuisance to some sectors of society. They said many of them were also foreign nationals, which made them vulnerable because of their illegal status. “When one of us gets killed, no one even blinks an eye because ... to many we might as well not exist. The public sees us working hard but they don’t really see us as fellow human beings,” said Njabulo Mazibuko, who often worked with Moahloli.

Mazibuko said Moahloli, whom he respectfully referred to as uncle, was one of the people who showed him the ropes when he first arrived at the landfill site in 2013. He described Moahloli as a hard worker and someone who did not like conflicts.

“He was a peacemaker and always tried to defuse tensions whenever there were arguments between others. I pray the police find whoever did this to him before they hurt someone else,” he said.

Lesotho nationals Nthabeleng Mohapo and Pontsho Lebakae said they now feared for their safety as they also live at the dump. The pair arrived in South Africa in May and Moahloli’s death is the first tragedy they have witnessed at the site.

They said when they first arrived other waste-pickers cautioned about the risk of being run over by the vehicles and machinery, but not murder. “We don’t feel safe anymore and if we had money we would leave for Lesotho today. We are going to work as hard as we can this month so that we make enough to travel home and we are not coming back, it’s simply not worth it,” said Mohapo.

The pair said they each made about R500 a month from selling recyclables and lived off the food dumped by supermarkets.


Read more on:    crime  |  pietermaritzburg
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