'Muti' killings shock KZN

2001-03-19 23:52

St Faiths - A mother of a four-year-old boy heard the death cries of her son and his cousin while they were being mutilated in an apparent muti murder in southern KwaZulu-Natal.

A deathly silence descended on the Mncwabe household in the Luphetheni township near Highflats following the gruesome murder of Sifiso, 12, and Lindonkuhle, 4.

The attacker, assumed to be male, broke down a bedroom door at about 8 o'clock on the night of the murder, before the boys were beheaded and their genitals removed. The police are investigating the possibility that the attacker is known by the family.

A cousin of the victims, Nhlakanipho Mncwabe, 8, who slipped out of the room shortly before the murders, was on Monday still too traumatised to talk to the police.

Psychological counselling for the boy is being considered, investigating officer Captain Campbell Nyuswa said.

Head of one child found

A search over the weekend conducted by members of the community, a team of Port Shepstone and St Faiths detectives, and the unit for serious violent crimes, found the head of one of the children.

However, Nyuswa is hopeful, following reaction from the community, that people will come forward with information.

During the incident on Friday night, Nhlakanipho - a Grade 3 pupil - was woken by the presence of somebody in the room. When he opened his eyes he saw a stranger in the dark with a knife in his hand.

He went to call his aunt Thandazile in a nearby bedroom. When she went to investigate, she heard the children screaming and saw the light going on and off.

She went to call the neighbours, and on returning saw someone walking around in the yard. Their outcry alerted the attacker, who fled.

Meanwhile the children's grandmother Addie Nomfazwe, 60, and one of her daughters Mabuyi returned from a wake they had attended a few hundred metres from their home, and received the news of the murders from neighbours.

It was the first suspected muti murder in 13 years in the quiet and close-knit community.

The murders follow in the wake of reports of a traditional healer earlier this month near Plessislaer in the Midlands who paid a young boy R25 to bring him a victim. A three-year-old girl was clubbed to death with an iron object.

School in shock and fear

Umhlabashana Senior Primary School principal Zingisa Mgwidi said Sifiso's Grade 5 classmates and teacher are still in a state of shock over the murders.

Sifiso had been a competent, trustworthy pupil who had worked hard, she said. "We want to go and talk to the family, but the children are visibly upset. They were hardly able to do any work today," Mgwidi said.

Her colleague at the junior primary school where Nhlakanipho had been a pupil, Lindiwe Mahlaba, now fears for the safety of her pupils.

Over the weekend 20 homes in a traditional community in the Melmoth area were burnt down, and a man stabbed with an spear and left for dead, in an incident which appeared to be witchcraft-related.

People living in Tshitereke in the Northern Province expressed their dissatisfaction over the slow progress made in a probe connected with alleged muti-related crimes in a meeting with the police during the weekend.