Call for dead to be avenged

Canaan Mdletshe

The trial of six muti-murder accused has been moved to another court.

More than 100 angry community members toyi-toyied and carried placards calling for life sentences for the six alleged serial killers who made a brief appearance in the Umbumbulu magistrate's court on the KwaZulu-Natal south coast yesterday.

A seventh accused, Abigail Njapha, 63, a local traditional healer, appeared in court separately because she has turned state witness. She faces a charge of conspiracy to commit murder.

The accused, including a former policeman, appeared in connection with the deaths of nine women whose bodies were found between October and last month

Magistrate Garth Davis said: "In the interests of a fair trial and the safety of the accused, this case will be heard in the Pinetown regional court."

The suspects will appear in court again on Tuesday.

The charges relate to the deaths of Slindile Nene, Nokuzola Madlala, Busi Ngcobo, Priscilla Khawula, Zandile Shange, Busisiwe Khanyase, Lungi Mbhele and Sphindile Mbhele. Also on the list of the dead is Mbali Nyathikazi, who was four months pregnant when she was raped and killed.

All the murdered women had similar injuries to their heads and all had had body parts removed. Some had their ears and breasts cut off.

The police were given leads by one victim who survived, though her ear was severely scarred.

More than 50 armed policemen patrolled outside the packed court . The protestors petitioned the court to refuse the suspects bail and said they "won't think twice about avenging the dead".

Linda Gumede, chairman of the community policing forum, said: "People are living in peace since the arrests. We hope our justice system will not take that away from us by releasing the suspects."

He said people would pack the Pinetown court next week.