Four appear in court for killing 'witch'

McKeed Kotlolo

McKeed Kotlolo

Four men were arrested for allegedly hacking to death a 52-year-old neighbour they accused of being a witch.

Zodwa Mirriam Nzimande of the farm Redcliff in Amsterdam, Mpumalanga, was hacked with an axe while sleeping at a neighbour's house on Saturday night.

Her alleged attackers, Nkosintle Patrick Nhlabathi, 20, Phillip Nhlabathi, 52, Steven Nkosi, 23, and Sikelele Lukhele, 18, accused Nzimande of having bewitched four of their relatives - a couple and their two children - over the past four months.

The father and two children died during that period and the mother died recently and was buried at the weekend.

Superintendent Abie Khoabane of the Mpumalanga provincial police said the brutal murder of Nzimande occurred on Saturday night.

Her body was spotted by passersby on their way to the local cemetery on Sunday morning.

The body was lying in a pool of blood outside a neighbour's house.

On that Sunday morning the Nhlabathi, Lukhele and Nkosi families were preparing to bury their daughter-in-law "who died due to illness".

But her relatives allegedly insisted that Nzimande was responsible for her death and that of her three family members.

Khoabane also said rumours had it that Nzimande had informed certain members of the community that she was responsible for wiping the family out.

A community gathering was convened for Saturday to discuss the allegations.

She allegedly failed to attend the meeting and decided to spend the night at a neighbour's house, apparently to hide from angry members of the bereaved family.

On Saturday night the accused , all relatives of the allegedly bewitched family, allegedly launched a manhunt for her and found her sleeping at a house belonging to an elderly woman.

"They allegedly dragged her outside, where they hacked her to death with an axe," Khoabane said.

They appeared in the Amsterdam magistrate's court on Monday. Their case was postponed to next Monday and they were remanded in custody.