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Hus­band de­mands lobolo he paid for his wife be­cause he says she’s in­fer­tile

CityPress - - News - LUBA­BALO NGCUKANA luba­balo.ngcukana@city­press.co.za

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?

SMS us on 35697 us­ing the key­word LOBOLA and tell us what you think. Please in­clude your name and prov­ince. SMSes cost R1.50

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