Vigilantes who believed the family’s grandmother was involved in witchcraft allegedly murdered an entire family in South Africa’s Eastern Cape Province. Police say such killings remain a serious problem.
The Citizen newspaper reported Nokitani Tshemesi, 65, and her three granddaughters were stabbed to death in the village of Ntshingizi in the early hours of Monday. The youngest granddaughter was only 10 years old.
They were stabbed with a traditional short stabbing spear, or assegai.
South African Police Services (SAPS) Superintendent Mzukisi Fatyela said:
We are talking about the safety of women and children, because they are vulnerable to these kinds of crimes.
The group was attacked because it was believed they were practising witchcraft. Fatyela said:
We will take them to court to teach them a lesson, so that others who may do that must know the law will take its course, and punish them.
The police arrested two men in connection with the crime Tuesday night and captured the third suspect when he returned home. Fatyela said the local community had tipped off the police about the killers’ whereabouts.
The suspected killers are expected to appear in the Mqanduli Magistrate’s Court today.
The police have since found some of the murdered family’s bloodstained clothes, as well as the assegai used in the attack.
SAPS spokesman Fatyela ruled out robbery as the motive for the murders, saying:
The family who was murdered was very poor. She (the grandmother) was accused of witchcraft… she was accused of killing someone (with witchcraft).
An 81-year-old woman was murdered in the neighbouring coastal province of Kwa-Zulu Natal. The elderly lady’s throat was cut and she was stabbed 50 times after her neighbour accused her of killing two relatives using witchcraft.