Toddler's cries raised alarm after bloody KZN massacre

2016-04-11 14:39
(File, News24)

(File, News24)

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Durban – The piercing cries of a toddler on his slain mother's back raised the alarm following six murders at the Zondo home, at the Mpambukelweni homestead in KwaCeza near Ulundi, on Saturday night.

When neighbours went to investigate, they found a child strapped to his dead mother’s back with a towel.

The woman’s body and those of five other relatives were strewn across the homestead, following the attack that almost wiped out an entire family.

"The bullet missed the child’s head and hit the mother through the head and she died instantly," acting Inkosi Mpikayise Buthelezi said. 

"I still don’t know how the child survived. If you did not believe in God, now is the time to. It is a miracle. I was told that that child was crying so much that neighbours went to investigate and they found bodies all over and others were still burning on the homestead."

KwaZulu-Natal police said five armed men stormed into a rondavel where the family had gathered at night and shot a 33-year-old woman in the head. She died on the scene.

A couple, aged 58 and 60, and a 5-year-old child, were set alight in the rondavel. Two children, aged 3 and 15, were hacked to death with bush knives.

'No one deserves to die like that'

While the motive for the killing was still unknown, Buthelezi - who presides over the Buthelezi tribal authority - said cattle theft was at the centre of the brutal attack.

"Back in 2014, a member of the Zondo family stole cattle. He was a well-known thief in the area and he had appeared in the tribal court three times already.

"He was out on R1 000 bail when he was hacked to death."

Buthelezi said he received a panicked phone call on Saturday night from the induna who lived about 100m from the Zondo home.

"I could hear bullets in the background. He asked me to please call the police because people were being killed."

Buthelezi said he called police and rushed to the scene. He said among the dead was a woman visiting her boyfriend.

"In one rondavel, you could smell burnt human flesh. On the floor, there was a dead woman. I was told that her boyfriend, who escaped, had told her to run for safety, but she ran in the direction that the bullets were coming from.”

Buthelezi said cattle theft was rife in the area.

"This is not the first time we have had a senseless killing like this one. In 2014, we had a guy who stabbed another person with a spear during a funeral."

Buthelezi said he believed that the attack was aimed at preventing the Zondo family from avenging their family member’s death.

"They were anticipating a revenge attack from the Zondo family, so they went there and killed the family. No one deserves to die like that. If you saw what I saw, you would never eat meat again.”

'People were shot, hacked and set alight'

Speaking for the family, Wilson Zondo, 60, said he was heartbroken.

"We have lost everything. People are dead and we have no food.”

Zondo said he did not know if the allegations of cattle theft were true, because he did not live on the homestead.

"I have my own house. But I heard that one of my nephews was killed in a revenge attack for stealing something."

He said funeral arrangements would be made public later.

Ulundi mayor Johanna Manana said she could not understand the heinous crime.

"People were shot, hacked and set alight. What kind of a person does that to another person?"

Manana said she had pleaded with locals not to take the law into their own hands.

"We have asked for calm in the community when they discover who the suspects are. We don’t want mob justice," Manana said.

KwaZulu-Natal police spokesperson Major Thulani Zwane said five men had been charged with murder and attempted murder and were expected to appear in the Mahlabathini Magistrate's Court on Tuesday. 

Read more on:    pietermaritzburg  |  crime

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