A KwaZulu-Natal granny has been raped and murdered, allegedly by men posing as soldiers who said they were going around sanitising homes, Social Development MEC Nonhlanhla Khoza said on Monday.
Khoza said 75-year-old Genzeni Ernstine "MaMthalane" Zuma "was raped and murdered by criminals who had duped her into believing they were members of the SANDF (South African National Defence Force)".
"It's alleged that Zuma allowed the criminals in to her home [in Sweetwaters, Pietermaritzburg] after they claimed to be SANDF members assigned to sanitise homes in the area," she said.
Khoza said Zuma's grandson discovered her body on Sunday morning.
"The grandson had been asleep in another house within the homestead when the rape and murder took place."
Khoza said government was concerned about "criminals who take advantage of the national lockdown to rob and murder unsuspecting citizens".
"The deployment of the police and SANDF in our communities is one of many measures to safeguard the lives of our people from the invisible enemy (Covid-19) and we take exception when criminals use this to commit crimes against unsuspecting people."
Khoza said the rape and murder of an elderly person "indicates that our people have lost ubuntu".
"These criminals who falsely presented themselves as members of the SANDF to gain access to the old person's home, must be traced and arrested immediately. We have full confidence that our law enforcement agencies will soon bring these thugs to book," she said.
She further called on the public to assist law enforcement agencies.
"We are really taken aback by this incident, but we call on anyone who might have information that may assist the police to come forward and report such so that the police can track down the perpetrators."
Khoza said her department was concerned about the extent of sexual violence and vicious attacks on senior citizens.
"In light of the Covid-19 outbreak in our country, which led to President Cyril Ramaphosa declaring a 21-day national lockdown, our communities should be very vigilant of criminals who want to come into their homes under false pretences."
She said the department dispatched a team of social workers to give psycho-social support to Zuma's family.
Police spokesperson Colonel Thembeka Mbele said a case of murder was being investigated by Plessislaer SAPS.
Mbele said Zuma's body was found strangled inside her home.
"The matter is still under investigation."
*This story has been updated with police comment.