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Cops told to stay away as group beats 'witch'

Police watched helplessly as angry residents tortured a naked woman accused of being a witch in a village in Mpumalanga.

The unidentified woman is believed to have gained entrance to a house in Mbangwane village near Komatipoort through a bathroom window and was found naked in the kitchen.

Residents were woken in the early hours of Saturday to come and see the woman, who was tied up and being beaten by a group of men.

People at the scene said the police were warned to stay away from the house.

In pictures and a video Sowetan has seen, residents blocked the entrance to the house. A number of police cars were parked outside.

After hours of negotiation, the woman was rescued by the police and taken away from the scene.

A video that has gone viral on social media shows the woman wearing only panties and a bra sitting on the floor in a tiled room. She is leaning against the wall with her hands tied with a piece of rope.

A man in a purple shirt is seen with an enamel mug. He is moving it around her legs. It seems the mug is hot because the woman is heard saying repeatedly: "Uyangishisa (You are burning me.)Please forgive me.")

The woman then gets a whipping from another man in a red T-shirt.

"Ufuna tsina sife? (You want us to die?)," the man in the red T-shirt says as he hits her with a fist and swears.

Voices in the background ask the woman who she is. Other people are taking photos and videos of her.

She mumbles: "Ngingo waka Mathabela (I am Mathabela)."

After several beatings with a thick black whip, she cries out: "We were in the area bewitching!"

The man in the red T-shirt continues: "Uloya tsina kutsi sife singaphumeleli la emhlabeni. (You are bewitching us. You want us to die. You do not want us to succeed in life). "

Another man in a grey jersey hits her on the head with an unknown object.

Though the police arrived in large numbers, they were warned to stay away.

A woman resident who asked not to be named said: "What we want to know is how the woman got into the house. All the doors were locked. How she managed to come into the house through the bathroom window is beyond me."

Mpumalanga police spokesman Colonel Leonard Hlathi said police were looking into the matter.

"We are assessing information given to us. If need be, we will refer it to harmful-occult investigators," said Hlathi.

Occult-related crimes are reportedly on the rise in Gauteng, SA's most heavily populated province.

The South African Pagan Rights Alliance (Sapra) said it was illegal to accuse people of witchcraft.

Sapra director Damon Leff said: "No one can prove that (witchcraft was being practised)."

He said there was no plan to deal with preventing such crimes.

He believes communities should be stopped from evicting people accused of witchcraft from their homes because many families have been affected by this.

The SA Human Rights Commission previously noted that there was an increase of such cases being reported, especially in rural areas. The commission said muti killers were sometimes confused with witches or witchcraft.



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