Villagers scared over vanishing bodies of kids

Given Mahlalela

Given Mahlalela

Residents of a rural area in Mpumalanga are afraid to bury their infants near the banks of a river after the bodies of children were exhumed by unknown culprits recently.

Women in the dusty village of KaMdladla Trust, east of Malelane, bury their toddlers on river and stream banks, but they now fear to do what is customary because of the recent exhumations.

A local woman, Elinah Mabaso, alleged that her infant was dug up by unknown people shortly after its burial some weeks ago.

"I went to check my toddler's grave, only to find that it had been exhumed with the coffin as well," said Mabaso.

She said she was having trouble sleeping at night, not knowing where her child's body was.

"I am worried because I don't know what they are doing with my child's spirit," Mabaso lamented.

Local residents accuse a clique of prophets of involvement in the practice.

Meanwhile, another man, who wished not to be named and had just buried his infant in the same cemetery, has related a similar story.

"Even my child's body was stolen from there by unknowns and I don't know where they sell our children.

"I think most of the foul play occurs at night when we are fast asleep," the man said.

This brings to two the number of children's bodies known to have been dug out.

The incident comes three years after a toddler was buried in a chicken enclosure at nearby KaMhlushwa township.

This led to residents calling an urgent meeting with the police to have the toddler's body dug up.

They claimed they had met the toddler's spirits wandering in the streets.

Tonga police spokesman Constable Mzwandile Nyambi confirmed they had received reports about the burial of an infant in a chicken run.

In a meeting a year ago concerning the burial of infants, local headman Mpostoli Shongwe gave villagers permission to bury their infants in the adults' graveyard.

The villagers failed to take up the offer because they were concerned that they would not be able to follow their customary practices.

This was because graves in the main graveyard must be dug deep.