Mpumalanga pastor and nephew burnt alive in act of mob justice

A White River pastor believed to have been behind the murder of two siblings and his brother were burnt alive in an act of mob justice.
A White River pastor believed to have been behind the murder of two siblings and his brother were burnt alive in an act of mob justice.
Image: 123RF/Duncan Noakes

The community of Mganduzweni outside White River, in Mpumalanga, allegedly beat and set alight a local pastor and his nephew, including torching their houses, after accusing them of raping and killing two siblings in the area.

Silindile Sifunda, 7, and her sister, Nontokozo, 6, went missing on Tuesday afternoon and were found dead in Mganduzweni village the following morning.

The community went on the rampage on Thursday and hunted down the  pastor and his nephew and allegedly beat them up, before  setting them alight. The pair died on the scene.

Community members, who preferred to remain anonymous, told Sowetan a local traditional healer pointed out the pastor and his nephew as the people who allegedly killed the two girls.

“After we found out that the children didn’t return home after going to play on Tuesday, we searched and but didn’t find them. On Wednesday, when we found out from a traditional healer that they have been killed by the pastor and his nephew, we  interrogated them and the nephew confessed that they raped the girls before killing them,” the community members said in unison.

“The nephew also told us that they removed some of the body parts of the victims and sold them  to three traditional healers. After burning the pastor and the nephew we went to look for the traditional healers but they ran away.”

Leonard Nsangwane, another community member, said they were tired of crime in the area and also blamed the police of doing nothing to arrest the criminals.

“There’s no way we can leave with criminals, we had to take the law into our own  hands. We live in fear here and we want to get rid of all the criminals who kill our children.   We found evidence that these people [the pastor and his nephew] killed these kids after they made a confession,” said Nsangwane.

Mpumalanga police spokesperson Brig Leonard Hlathi dismissed the claims that police were not doing enough to arrest the crime in the area.

Hlathi also warned members of the community to not take the law into their own hands, but to inform the police about criminal activities.

Hlathi said they were investigating cases of murder and arson, adding that no one has been arrested.

He scoffed at the claims that by community members that  the victims’ private parts were missing, saying the postmortem didn’t confirm that.

“Police believe these atrocious deeds may have been fuelled by rumours that are doing the rounds saying that the young siblings may have had certain body parts mutilated.”

“Preliminary investigation conducted at the scene [suggests] there were no such missing body parts. Members of the community are further urged to refrain from reckless rumour mongering which may have adverse repercussions when coming to sensitive matters like this one,” he said.

Hlathi said that a sangoma may have been consulted who in turn pointed towards the two slain men as being the ones responsible for the siblings’ demise.

“People are requested to bring such information to the relevant authorities instead, as opposed to going on the rampage attacking and killing people,” he added.

Police were now pursuing those who were part of the deadly mob.

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