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Husband demands lobolo he paid for his wife because he says she’s infertile
Police officers in Mbizana in the Eastern Cape are on high alert as tension between two villages fighting over the return of lobolo resulted in the deaths of five men, their bodies found mutilated. According to iNkosi Gcinusapho Mphetshwa, the chief of Mkhandlweni village, the attack took place after a man from his village demanded the return of his lobolo from his in-laws living in the neighbouring village called KwaZulu (in the Eastern Cape, not KwaZulu-Natal). The husband accused his wife of seven years of being infertile.
Mphetshwa said nine armed attackers from the husband’s Mkhandlweni village went to the wife’s KwaZulu village to demand that the cows paid more than seven years ago for lobolo be returned.
They were overpowered in the fight and five of them were killed with bush knives and assegais. Four escaped alive.
Mphetshwa said he had earlier intervened in the dispute to try to resolve the demand by the husband’s family to have their lobolo returned.
“We sat down with both families and their respective villagers [with interest in the matter]. After discussions, the wife’s family agreed to pay back the lobolo of four cows, the same number paid for her seven years ago.”
But the husband’s family did not accept the cows that were returned, arguing they wanted the exact “fat cows” they gave to the wife’s family years ago. They claimed that the cows the wife’s family brought were too thin.
“That is when the tension started. We did not know that [anger] was this deep,” he said.
The five from the Mkhandlweni group were buried in a mass funeral in the village yesterday.
Inkosi Zanocwangco Gazula, chief of KwaZulu village, which was attacked, said his community was terrified.
“Villagers are scared for their lives. We don’t know when this war is going to end. We call on the police to protect the people in both villages because we don’t know what is going to happen and when.
“We have never heard of a situation where families disagree over lobolo to a point that people die. We tried to intervene three weeks ago and police were present in a meeting that was arranged involving the two families and the villagers to bring peace.”
Gazula said it was an embarrassment for the African culture that people could kill one another over lobolo, something that was meant to unite two families and the villages. “This is very strange and shocking. I don’t understand why lobolo could be an issue seven years after the marriage. We thought that as the two [royal houses] intervened the matter would be quelled.
“We were equally shocked when people started attacking one another in the middle of the night over this thing.” Mphetshwa said: “The other thing is that people’s bodies were mutilated. Some had their heads cut off, others their private parts. This has led to suspicions that the parts will be used for muti.”
He said people from the two villages no longer visited each other.
“It’s an open war even though it is quiet now because police are patrolling the areas,” he said.
Villagers on both sides were worried about what would happen “after the funerals”.
Brigadier Mtutuzeli Mtukushe, cluster commander in Alfred Nzo area which includes Mbizana, confirmed the deaths. He said police were investigating five cases of murder. No arrests have been made so far.
“The main reason for this attack was that the husband’s side wanted the exact cows they paid. Obviously, after seven years, you will not find those exact cows, but that is what they wanted,” he said.
Mtukushe said the disagreements between the two families had escalated and now involved others living in the villages. Mutilation of the bodies had fuelled the anger.
He said police have established a multidisciplinary team, including detectives, intelligence and public order policing. He assured the public that arrests were imminent.
“Our police are patrolling the two villages to make sure there are no further attacks. There is always a possibility of revenge,” he said.
The men who died were Ludada Juqula (43), Mlandeli Mazongolo (31), Two-Boy Ndovu (33), Ndzukiso Mayaba (39) and Lindani Nonqayi (39). Is it proper for any family to demand the return of lobolo when couples break up?
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