village nightmare

RESIDENTS of Ngqosheni near Msinga in the KwaZulu-Natal midlands fear that gun-toting assailants who slaughtered six relatives this weekend will attack other villagers.

RESIDENTS of Ngqosheni near Msinga in the KwaZulu-Natal midlands fear that gun-toting assailants who slaughtered six relatives this weekend will attack other villagers.

Thengakuhle Mbatha, 20, Senzo Mbatha, 21, Mandlawapheli Mbatha, 25, Thembiso Mbatha, 29, Mabele Mbatha, 50, and Bongani Sokhela, 24, were woken up in their homestead on Saturday morning, led outside and made to lie down next to each other, then shot execution-style.

Zandile Mbatha was rushed to hospital where she is recovering from gunshot wounds.

Police recovered spent cartridges from AK-47, R1 and R5 rifles.

Swelling anger is palpable in the community, where many believe the Mbathas were silenced after witnessing a crime related to a deadly clan feud.

Neighbours are fleeing their homes fearing that the attackers might return soon.

Ndlokwakhe Ngubane, 74, said the community was shattered by the killings.

He said the area had been terrorised by stock thieves, robberies, house break-ins and car theft.

"But we did not think these crimes would lead to the deaths of people. The Mbathas were killed like flies. No one is safe because if you have information the criminals will come for you."

He said residents were planning to flee the area.

"I will also take my grandchildren away from this area," he said.

Another resident, who refused to give his name, said the clan had been involved in a tussle since Mnakwa Mbatha was killed.

"The Mbatha clan was divided into two factions after Mnakwa's death, and each faction has solicited the support of different people to attack the other," he said.

Inkosi Siphamandla Mthembu said attempts to resolve the feud had failed.

"I held several meetings. Police came in and found weapons. People were arrested but the killings continue."

Police have established a task team to investigate the slaughter.

"We are following up leads," said police spokesperson Henry Budhram. "We cannot rule out the possibility of the killings being related to the feud in the clan."

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