Daily Dispatch

Woman burnt to death af­ter witch­craft claims

- SIKHO NTSHOBANE sikhon@dis­patch.co.za South Africa News · Crime · Incidents · Alfred Baphethuxolo Nzo

Yet an­other EmaXe­si­beni (for­merly Mount Ayliff ) woman has been found burnt to ashes, in her vil­lage home on Mon­day morn­ing.

A state­ment sent by Al­fred Nzo dis­trict mu­nic­i­pal­ity on the in­ci­dent stated that the vic­tim had been ac­cused of witch­craft, mak­ing it the third in­ci­dent at­trib­uted to witch­craft killings in the area this month.

Last week the Daily Dis­patch re­ported how 53-year-old No­thethisa Nt­shamba and her younger sis­ter Ntombi Nd­lanya, 48, had been burnt to death in their home at Ngonya­meni vil­lage in EmaXe­si­beni over al­le­ga­tions of witch­craft.

How­ever Eastern Cape po­lice say it is too soon to say the most re­cent death is any­thing other than ac­ci­den­tal. Pre­lim­i­nary in­ves­ti­ga­tions sug­gest there was “no third hand” in­volved in the el­derly woman’s death.

They said an in­quest had been opened to as­cer­tain ex­actly how the woman died.

The in­ci­dent hap­pened around 4.10am in Brook­snek vil­lage, ac­cord­ing to Eastern Cape po­lice spokesper­son Cap­tain Khaya Ton­jeni. The de­ceased has been iden­ti­fied as 75-year-old Nox­hamla Landa.

“On De­cem­ber 24 at about 4.10 am, the house of Mrs Landa, who was sleep­ing alone, was seen burn­ing by the neigh­bours,” said Ton­jeni. “Upon open­ing, she was found burnt to ashes.”

The spokesper­son said: “… we are in­ves­ti­gat­ing an in­quest be­cause at this point the pre­lim­i­nary in­ves­ti­ga­tion hasn't shown any foul play in her death.”

At the time of the sis­ters’ deaths, the pro­vin­cial po­lice com­mis­sioner had promised that no stone would be left un­turned in bring­ing the per­pe­tra­tors to book.

This week Ton­jeni re­vealed that seven sus­pects, among them two mi­nors aged 17, had been ar­rested for the mur­der of the two sis­ters. They were also charged with ar­son.

“A well co-or­di­nated in­ves­tiga­tive ef­fort by a newly-as­sem­bled team of de­tec­tives re­sulted in the ar­rest of seven sus­pects – two 17-year-old mi­nor boys, three fe­males aged be­tween 21 and 26 and two male sus­pects aged 21 and 23.”

Act­ing pro­vin­cial po­lice com­mis­sioner ma­jor -gen­eral An­dré Swart had also con­demned the in­ci­dent which he de­scribed as a cow­ardly at­tack, even go­ing as far as say­ing it would not be tol­er­ated in the province.

The sus­pects ap­peared in the EmaXe­si­beni mag­is­trate's court last week.

Ton­jeni said the two mi­nors had mean­while been taken to so­cial work­ers who were ex­pected to make a rec­om­men­da­tion on what steps to take.

“We will con­tinue to ex­plore other ways to ed­u­cate the pub­lic against at­tack of our weak and vul­ner­a­ble. We will also en­gage other gov­ern­ment de­part­ments to cre­ate aware­ness,” added Swart.

On Wed­nes­day this week, Al­fred Nzo dis­trict mayor Sixo­lile Mehlo­makhulu said the dis­trict mu­nic­i­pal­ity would step in and as­sist in en­sur­ing that Landa was ac­corded a dig­ni­fied funeral.

“Once again we send our deep­est con­do­lences to the Landa fam­ily and rel­a­tives,” he said, while also call­ing on com­mu­ni­ties across the Al­fred Nzo dis­trict to help pre­vent witch­craft-re­lated deaths.

We will con­tinue to ed­u­cate the pub­lic against at­tack of weak and vul­ner­a­ble

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