DAD hammers four to death ... for food

Canaan Mdletshe

Canaan Mdletshe

A desperately poor man bludgeoned three teenage orphans and a three-day-old baby to death with a hammer because he thought they were getting his child's food parcels.

The alleged murderer then torched their humble home - a room - in Seven Oaks near Greytown in the KwaZulu-Natal Midlands.

Zoleka Mchunu, 18, her three-day-old baby, Sphumelele, her cousin, Thobile Mbhele, 15, and her best friend, Bongiwe Ndlovu, 14, were asleep when they were attacked on Monday.

"He blamed the orphans for giving his child away to the social workers without his consent," a neighbour and councillor, Mzikayifani Ndlovu, told Sowetan yesterday

The alleged murderer, who was arrested yesterday, was married to Mchunu's late sister and had a child with her last year.

"Social workers took the child after the woman's death because the family was living in poverty," Ndlovu said.

He said the man had complained to him that the orphans were living off food parcels that he felt he should have been getting "because the food parcels belonged to his child".

"He said they did this [gave the child away] to get food parcels. He was especially angry about seven tins of canned beans, which he was certain they got in the name of his child. He warned that someone was going to die."

Ndlovu said the man visited the orphans on Sunday and told them the same thing.

"He threatened them and left, promising to return. I tried to talk some sense into him and told him that the orphans were not accessing food parcels for his child because the child was with the social workers. But I could see that he was not convinced."

And he did return. With devastating consequences.

Ndlovu said the alleged murderer had confessed to the police after his arrest that he had returned with a hammer and bludgeoned each of them before setting their room alight.

Thembekile Madlala, one of the dead children's aunt, confirmed that Bongiwe had visited the two girls because one of them had given birth only days earlier.

"We were coming from a ceremony on Sunday afternoon when she asked to visit them because Zoleka had given birth on Friday and I agreed," Madlala said.

"Now she is dead. I don't know what got into his mind to do such a thing.

"Bongiwe was a good child and will be sorely missed."

The Umvoti local municipality will pay for the funerals.

"They had nothing," mayor Petros Ngubane said.