School sangoma blamed for 'suicide'

Ntwaagae Seleka

Ntwaagae Seleka

The Orange Farm, Vaal, family of a youth who died under mysterious circumstances at an initiation school, have blamed a sangoma for his death.

This came after Mawethu Gaba, 21, died at the initiation school at Poortjie, outside Orange Farm, where he is alleged to have committed suicide last Wednesday.

Vaal Rand police spokesman Captain Veli Mcera confirmed at the weekend that six men had been taken in for questioning.

One of them was arrested and appeared in court last Friday.

Mawethu's aunt, Dikeledi Gaba, 41, told Sowetan that after voluntarily going to the initiation school he changed his mind and left.

The school's resident sangoma, Makume Mpembe, 37, sought him out and took him back.

Though Mawethu escaped on two occasions, Mpembe had searched for him until he was found.

Gaba said Mawethu had joined his cousin Fezile Gaba and four friends at the circumcision school.

She said: "I was shocked when Mawethu phoned two weeks ago and said he had been admitted to the Chris Hani Baragwanath Hospital because I thought he was at the initiation school."

Gaba wept when she told how Mawethu had been taken back to the mountain by Mpembe after being discharged from hospital.

"On Wednesday two weeks ago he again escaped and hid at a house in the area until until last Tuesday, when Mpembe found him," she said. "The next day he was dead."

She said Mpembe told her husband and her about Mawethu's death and they alerted the police.

"I now fear for Fezile, who is also at the initiation school" Gaba said.

"He could be killed just to silence him."

Mpembe told Sowetan that one of the initiation school principals had called and told him that Mawethu had killed himself.

"When I got there I found Mawethu had actually been murdered because he had bruises all over his body," he said.

He asked other initiates what had happened and they told him Mawethu had been beaten to death by the principals the night he had brought him back.

"Escaping from the school is punishable because it is against our tradition," Mpembe said.