Ritual murder fears hover over Ngculwini on eve of elections
…Four years since the disappearance without trace of Bongiwe Vilakati (8) one August afternoon in the 2013 election year, residents begin to sight strange movements next to where the girl vanished and women go in groups to the only source of water at the
Little Bongiwe Vilakati (8) had gone to Ngculwini Nazarene Primary to collect her performance report of the second term around this time in August 2013 but never returned home and her family hope at least to clutch on some semblance of her remains, just for the sake of closure.
They appear to have come to terms that the worst happened to the little girl but there is no evidence to confirm the ultimate fears.
Four years later, her Grade 2 peers are on the eve of sitting for the primary school leaving certificate but all without her. Back at home her two grannies simply keep to gather to shed a tear or two in her memory, hoping that some day word would spread around that her remains had been found, otherwise they have nothing to say save that they have not given up the search even though they have combed just about every part of Ngculwini.
It would seem police gave up the search because they only came around to join the search parties during the days following the girl’s disappearance but they have not been there since.
“They would keep us aware that they were also going ahead with the search but soon after they stopped, maybe they have abandoned the search,” says the paternal aunt.
After the family sent a cry for help, the entire Ngculwini community combed the nearby bushes especially the farm across the river where people of suspicious character are usually spotted but came out with no results even after weeks on end.
The search parties included even the police and local community police groups. Although the elderly women could not identify other groups from the civil society they recall that it was around that time that the human trafficking campaigns became regular on national radio.
“We wept until tears were dry but hope was reignited on hearing news that others had been reunited with their lost ones or had discovered their remains but this hope was not to last.” The elderly woman says news that some trafficked persons are rescued and repatriated to their countries is encouraging but it would seem this is farfetched for the Vilakati family.
Villagers say it is rather unusual for people to disappear without trace at Ngculwini save that this time around they have begun to notice strange movements of suspicious persons emerging from the nearby farm. As a result, women go in groups to fetch water from the only source at the river dividing the community and the farm. On the other end of the farm is Bongiwe’s school.
However, rumour has it that some villagers spotted an unknown male clad in wellington boots who had packed a vehicle at the lowbridge leading to the school and carried the girl on his shoulders, however there is no one to collaborate this story, save for the talk among the community.
An elderly man recently returning from a wedding party was offered a lift without hitching by strangers near LaMantshonga shopping complex but his wisdom told him otherwise and is said to have told the ‘good samaritans’ that he would not board the vehicle because he could see that they had started with their illicit electioneering campaigns of ritual murders. He is said to have shouted so loud that people in surrounding homesteads heard him and the vehicle sped off. He lives to this day to relate his encounter at the slightest opportunity of a willing ear.
Women say they notice movement of strangers who appear to be hunting for those going to fetch water at the river. On the village side of the valley, however, the villagers are able to spot those movements and call each other to go as a group to fetch water and the strange movements are scared away.
“Our greatest fear is for the young children now that we are nearing elections, the hunters may pounce again given these strange movements.”
Last year police reported that 95 teenagers were reported missing since the beginning of that year. The missing teenagers were aged between 12 and 17 years and were reported to have gone missing mostly during the months of March, January and May.The number added to the total of missing persons in the country, which stood at a startling 212 in seven months at the time. The data was tallied up to end of July, 2016.Also forming the number of missing persons is an age group between 18 and 24, in which 50 have gone missing in the months of January, February and May.The statistics also reveal that January had the most number of missing people as 39 disappeared in that month alone.
This was followed by March, where 38 people were reported missing and then February and May, in which months 32 were reported missing. In the month of June a total of 27 were reported missing, 26 in April and 18 in July. It also showed that during 2013 police reported that in 2011, the number of missing people had doubled compared to the previous year. They revealed that the most targeted were albinos.Out of the 484 people reported missing in 2011, at least 159 were not found.
Some of the missing people were located but found dead.An average of 32 per cent of people reported missing during the period, 2009 to 2011 had not been found.This translates to about 303 people. Women and children were the most targeted according to the report.
TEARDROPS: Bongiwe’s two grannies with her aunt relating how each day without the missing eight-year-old has been a torment for the past four years.