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By unknown | May 11, 2009 | COMMENTS [ 0 ]

Moyahabo Mabeba

Moyahabo Mabeba

Police are still searching for a foreign national who is a fugitive in connection with arson and the murder of eight family members.

The man, originally from Mozambique, is suspected of setting alight the tiny mud house occupied by his estranged wife, their five children and two of her relatives at Homu 14C village in Giyani, Limpopo.

Elizabeth Nukeri, 44, her children Manani, 18, Ntombi, 15, Nhlovuko, 12, Bonani, 7, Masingita, 5, and her brother's two children Agreement, 11, and Given Mathebula, 9, died in the fire.

Inspector Thomas Makhubela said they are searching for Thomas Mathebula, 67, in connection with cases of arson, malicious damage to property and eight counts of murder.

Police initially suspected that Mathebula had fled to his native country but Makhubela said he has reportedly been seen around Giyani.

"We are hot on his trail . we are closing in on him. A search has been launched for him. We urge members of the public to contact us immediately if they see him," Makhubela said.

The police are also collaborating with their Mozambican counterparts in the search.

Posters with the fugitive's Identikit photo have been distributed to make it easier for people to identify him.

Gloom covered Homu during the emotional mass burial on Saturday. Speakers at the memorial service in the Old Unigaza Hall on Friday condemned the jilted husband's cruelty.

Nukeri reportedly told family and friends that she was a victim of spousal abuse for years, but had not reported her live-in lover to the police.

She fled her partner of more than two decades and thought she had found safety in her brother's one-roomed mud house. But Mathebula allegedly tracked her down, locked the hut from the outside, doused it with petrol and set it alight.

The house and its occupants were burnt to cinders.

The victims were buried on Saturday with the help of the Giyani municipality, which provided coffins, tents and food.


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