A woman and her five children were brutally murdered on Tuesday night in the Eastern Cape, on the eve of the start of the 16 Days of Activism against Gender-based Violence.
On Thursday morning the police confirmed the cold-blooded murders of the six people in Dabekweni village in Kwaaiman in Mqanduli on Tuesday night. An axe was used in the killings and the husband was on the run, police said.
Provincial commissioner Lieutenant-General Liziwe Ntshinga described the incident as shattering.
“It is inconceivable that on the first day of the 16 Days of Activism against Gender-based Violence we wake up to such a horrible and distressing incident. Whoever is behind these gruesome and heartless murders must be found without any delay,” said Ntshinga.
The police have activated a 72-hour plan to ensure that all the necessary resources needed to speed up arrest and finalisation of investigations are in place. Anyone with information on the murders and the whereabouts of the husband is requested to alert the nearest police station or call the Crime Stop number 08600 10 111.
Provincial police spokesperson Brigadier Tembinkosi Kinana said the police were called after neighbours suspected that something had happened in the family home.
“On arrival at the scene of crime and as they started with investigation, the police found six people murdered, among them children. The deceased include a 42-year-old mother and her children aged between six months and 10 years,” he said.
Kinana said an axe found at the scene is believed to have been used in the murders. He said an investigation was underway.
“It is alleged that the husband, and who is of Zimbabwean origin, has disappeared. Police believe that he can assist the investigations into the case,” said Kinana.
The murders happened hours before deputy President David Mabuza launched at the Union Buildings in Pretoria on Wednesday this year’s programme for the 16 days activism campaign and the mourning of those murdered in such violence.
The day was also marked to commemorate those who have succumbed to the Covid-19 coronavirus.
“As we deal with the dark cloud of Covid-19, the chilling pain of gender-based violence and femicide cuts deep into core foundations of our national consciousness, our identity, our humanity, and a collective sense of nationhood. No nation can emerge from the ruins and destruction of its own women and children at the hands of men,” said Mabuza.
“The renewal of this nation’s soul will lie in our collective commitment to putting an end to gender-based violence and femicide. The whole nation must rise and mobilise every street, every community, every church, and every family to join the fight against the murder, and violation of women and children by men. Many lives of women and children have been lost as a result of gender-based violence and femicide in our own communities.
“These twin pandemics of Covid-19 and gender-based violence and femicide continue to engulf our nation on an unprecedented scale. We have to work together as a nation to fight these pandemics so that we inspire hope and galvanise the nation towards a common vision of unity, cohesion and shared prosperity,” said Mabuza.
President Cyril Ramaphosa was also part of the day’s proceedings as he hosted a dialogue on gender-based violence and femicide.