Rumours of witchcraft abound as Modjadji royal dies

Alex Matlala

Allegations of witchcraft are deepening in Khethakone, home of the "rain queen", after a close relative of the Modjadji royal family died yesterday of suspected poisoning.

The death of Malekutu Modjadji, 25, ignited a serious wrangle between the Modjadjis and the family of the suspect alleged to be responsible for his death.

Modjadji died yesterday at Mankweng Hospital.

He was first rushed to Kgapane Hospital after complaining of a stomach ache while having drinks in the village last week.

Witnesses said Modjadji was drinking with friends in the royal village last Tuesday when the incident occurred.

They said the suspect poured a poisonous substance in his beer while he had gone to the toilet.

Modjadji began complaining of a stomach ache after drinking the beer and collapsed soon afterwards.

The deceased, who had been a close friend and confidante of prince regent Mpapatla Modjadji, is alleged to have had serious differences with the suspect over who was the legitimate friend of the regent.

The deceased had been taking care of the regent since he was released from hospital.

Both the suspect and the deceased were close friends of the regent. It is alleged that the suspect had become jealous that the regent seemed to be getting much closer to the newly deceased and of the lavish life they were enjoying together.

The deceased's grandmother also died of food poisoning a few months ago, Sowetan was told.

Rufus Mohale Mokoto, a close relative, recently said that every first-born son of the royal family was strangled or poisoned after birth to give way for the women to rule the clan.

"That was an act of witchcraft," said Mokoto of Malekutu Modjadji's death.

His death comes a month after Prince Mpapatla miraculously escaped death after an accident that left his car damaged beyond repair.

Mpapatla was in the intensive care unit of the Polokwane provincial hospital for a month.

He was released a fortnight ago and is recuperating in his home village of Khethakone.

Mpapatla was earlier involved in another car accident in which he crashed the luxury car donated to his late sister by Nelson Mandela.

After the accidents it was rumoured that his relatives, who were baying for his blood, had bewitched him.

Clement Modjadji, a spokesman for both the Modjadji royal council and the Modjadji family, confirmed the death of Malekutu.

They said funeral arrangements were under way.

Attempts to get comment from Phuti Seloba, the spokesman for the Limpopo Health and Social Development Department, failed because his cellphone was switched off.

Peter Kgaphola, of the district's health services, said doctors were still waiting for the results of a postmortem to determine if Modjadji was killed by poisoning.