Liberia is not known to actively fight ritualistic murders or to prosecute and condemn perpetrators of these heinous crimes. Yet, according to a recent newspaper article (reproduced below) it has a anti-ritual killing taskforce – which is quite revealing. Is the Taskforce just window-dressing or is it a sincere attempt to fight these criminal, traditional practices which are so hard to wipe out? I do not know the taskforce’s mandate, year of creation or its yearly budget, but will try to do some research and will let you know my findings asap.
Recently, Montserrado County District #1 Representative Lawrence Morris donated two brand new motorbikes to the anti-ritual killing Taskforce. At the occasion, he again expressed his condolences to the families of Elijah Porluma, 9 and Thomas Kollie, 10, who were reportedly abducted and killed allegedly for ritual purposes in early June 2019 (see my August 4, 2019 posting with the article entitled ‘Ritual Killings’ Spark Riot in Kingsville, dated June 25, 2019).
Representative Morris made a generous gesture by donating two motorbikes to the anti-ritual killing taskforce, but will his donation solve the endemic problem of ritualistic killings in the country, or make a significant contribution to fighting these crimes?
I have my doubts. In my view, more needs to be done to effectively end ritual killings in a country where superstition, ignorance, poverty, greed, lack of rule of law and impunity are responsible for the continuation of these criminal practices (webmaster FVDK).
Two brand new motorbikes, in the tune of L$490,000, have been donated to the Anti-Ritual Killing Community Watch-Team in Number 7 Community, Kingsville Township, Montserrado County District #1 on Thursday, October 24, 2019 to assist the Liberia National Police (LNP) to protect lives and properties.
Montserrado County District #1 Representative Rep. Lawrence Morris called on the District to choose peace over violence and end violence and ritualistic killings that would have the propensity to cause civil war or divide the district and, at large, the nation.
He again expressed his condolences to the bereaved families of the two children, Elijah Porluma, 9 and Thomas Kollie, 10, who were reportedly abducted and killed allegedly for ritual purposes in early June 2019 (italics added by the webmaster FVDK).
The House’s chairman on Refugees Repatriation, Resettlement and Reintegration urged his constituencies to join him not to applaud the ritualistic killings, and must never choose violence instead of peace; lies instead of truth and laugh at obscenities instead of correcting them.
He pointed out the new bikes are in fulfillment of his promise to support the Community Watch-Team to save lives and protect properties.
The Montserrado County lawmaker said: “You shall not murder or You shall not kill, is a moral imperative included as one of the Ten Commandments in the Holy Bible and it’s a sin against God.”
It may be recalled that, on Monday, June 24, 2019, aggrieved citizens of the Kingsville town blocked the main road from Red-Light to Kakata in demand for justice for two boys, Elijah Porluma, 9 and Thomas Kollie, 10, who were reportedly abducted and later killed allegedly for ritual purposes (italics added by the webmaster FVDK).
The demonstrators were holding aloft placards bearing inscriptions that read, “We want justice,” as they occupied the middle of the road with themselves and abandoned pieces of timber and metallic objects used to set up the roadblock.
The lifeless body of a 14-year-old boy was discovered at the back of the cemetery at Majozi village last Thursday morning. It is alleged that the body has a gorged skull and was missing its private parts. It is suspected that the deceased is another victim of ritual murder.
The enraged community of Masia allegedly set a suspect’s hut on fire on Sunday night. However, the man and his family managed to slip away by jumping over the fence at the backside of his main house.
The boy’s body was first discovered in the early hours of the morning by a group of women who were walking down the mountain from fetching wood. It was later revealed that the boy came from a neighbouring village, Masia.
The body was later identified as Nkhumeleni Mukhadi by his father, Mr Frank Mukhadi.
A suspicious finger pointed at a man for whom the boy used to perform odd jobs, after some community members said that he was seen walking out of a church crusade service with him on Wednesday evening (17 April).
Mukhadi is a heartbroken man, following the discovery of his son’s body. He believes that a bicycle was used to lure his son to the Phadinwe mountain, where he was then killed for muti. “There were fresh prints of a bicycle, which led us to the spot where Nkhume was killed,” he said. “We saw blood soaked into the ground.”
Nkhumeleni was a Grade 4 pupil at Vhangani Primary School. Mr Bernard Bopape, a teacher, said that the school was unable to accept that the young boy is no more. “We need answers to his death. We need to know who killed him and the motive behind the killing.”
Bopape said the pupils could hardly focus on their school work since everyone in the village was speaking about the pupil whose private parts had been cut off.
Cllr Sarah Makhuvha of Ward 7 maintains that she had received a sketchy report about the boy’s death from the ward committee and the deceased’s family. “There are community members who are maintaining that the man whose house was burnt had fetched Nkhumeleni from an evening church service and the boy never returned,” Makhuvha said. “To lose a child under such horrific circumstances is really painful.”
Makhuvha, the school and affected community members continue to hold meetings at the deceased’s house, as a way of trying to comfort the family of the deceased.
The police’s provincial spokesperson, Brig Hangwani Mulaudzi, said the police had opened a case of murder. “No arrests have been made thus far, but our investigations are ongoing,” said Mulaudzi. “We are also waiting for the doctors to perform a post-mortem.”
Mulaudzi added that the police had opened an arson case after a house of a man was set alight.
Chief Vho-Thanyani Masia called for calm in the village and requested the community members who might have information regarding the boy’s killing to supply it to the police.
When Limpopo Mirror visited the village on Monday evening, there was a large number of community members scattered about the suspect’s yard with the intention of setting the remaining rooms alight. The Vuwani police kept an eye on the situation from a short distance.
If one had hoped that the trial of the seven accused in the Sinoe murder case (the ‘Johnny Town Murder Case’ – see my previous postings on this subject) would have acted as a deterrent, unfortunately, reality is different. On September 5, another case has been revealed, this time in Maryland County, in the eastern part of the country, near Ivory Coast. One the one hand, the Liberian police is to be commended for its swift action and upholding the law; on the other hand, one wonders if and when mob justice, trail by ordeal (sassy wood trials) and the belief in witchcraft wil ever end in Liberia.
Warning: the article below contains some graphic details (webmaster FVDK).
HARPER, Maryland – Police in Harper, Maryland are currently investigating eight persons in Rock Town, Barrobo District for allegedly killing three people.
According to the commander of the Maryland Police Detachment, Jacob Comehn, 14 persons were accused of murdering Town Chief Isaac Weah Sadyee, Isaac Gortoe, and an 18-year-old identified as David Nugbo.
Comehn told journalists that he had received a call the morning of Monday, September 2 from Rock Town Community about the murders. The following day, he said his officers went to the location and arrested 8 of the 14 suspects. Six persons are still on the run.
Those arrested were John Tewah, Moses Chea, Sam Gbaquee, Chea Karmune, Deagba Toe, David Weah, Solomon Weah, and Cyrus Doe. All were males and ranged in ages from 33 to 50.
Comehn said the three persons murdered had been accused of witchcraft. He said the accused had been brought in the middle of town for questioning, where they reportedly confessed openly that they had planned to kill some Rock Town residents through witchcraft.
The police commander did not say whether the men were tortured before their confession, but he noted that they were murdered with cutlasses and other sharp objects.
Comehn described the deceased bodies as bearing signs of having undergone excruciating pain. Saydee’s two hands were cut and his two eyes were plucked, while Gortoe was chopped with cutlasses on his neck and the 18-year-old Nugbo had cutlass marks on his forehead and chest.
Prior to the killing, Comehn said the 14 suspects had asked women of the town to go indoors for the “country devil” to be released.
The case is eerily reminiscent of an ongoing trial in Buchanan, where seven men are being tried for gang-raping three women and murdering one of them after they were accused of being witches.
In that case, a defendant testified that the three women were turned over to the traditional society because they had been accused of witchcraft. A “country devil” had also been called to come take the women away and the town crier had asked all those around to go indoors. The defendant then explained that the body parts were extracted from the murder victim. The seven defendants were found guilty and are awaiting sentencing once they exhaust the appeal process.
Meanwhile, the Maryland police commander is calling on the public to assist in locating the remaining suspects. They are Toeson Hinneh, Jacob Doe, Varsco Weah, Prince Doe, Dargba Toe, and Amos Bahway.
“We in this part of the country remain committed to saving lives and properties as part of our duties in helping the government of Liberia in dealing with crimes,” Comehn said.
The eight suspects are in police custody and undergoing thorough investigation in Harper, Maryland. After police investigation, Comehn said the eight suspects will be charged and sent to court.
The three victims were buried on Wednesday by family members.
Earlier than expected, Judge Joe Barkon of the 2nd Judicial Circuit Court in Grand Bassa County has handed down his final ruling in the Sinoe murder case. Justice is done! But will this landmark case act as a deterrent?
For the answer, see tomorrow’s posting (September 9, 2019) (webmaster FVDK).
Published: September 6, 2019 By: Sampson David – The Bush Chicken
BUCHANAN, Grand Bassa – The Second Judicial Circuit Court has handed down its final ruling in the Sinoe gang rape and murder case, sentencing the seven defendants to 25 years in prison.
The ruling confirmed the guilty verdict rendered by the jury on August 30th against Moses Solo, Alex Karpeh, Sylvester Charty, Teah Gmanwle, Victor Solo, Tweh Kelgbeh, and Dennis Pyne Nimely.
The case stems from a December 12, 2018 incident where three women were stripped naked, paraded, and gang-raped in Johnny Town, Nomorpoe District, Sinoe. They were accused of witchcraft and one of the women, Willette Nyewallah, was murdered and buried secretly in a swamp in Johnny Town.
The defendants were charged with murder, gang rape, aggravated assault, criminal facilitation, and criminal conspiracy, and the case was transferred to the Second Judicial Circuit Court to avoid interference from powerful members of the traditional society.
The case began on August 13, with the defendants represented by a team of public defenders led by Grand Bassa’s public defender, Paul Jarvan.
Ten of the twelve jurors voted for a guilty verdict, while two abstained.
The head of the defense counsel, Jarvan, took exception to the jurors’ verdict, adding that he expected five of the seven persons who are not members of the traditional society to have been set free.
“The indictment said traditional people [were responsible for the murder], and the father of the deceased came and said only two persons up there [were members of the traditional society] – Alex Carpeh and Moses Solo,” he told journalists on Friday, August 30 at the court.
He filed a motion for retrial on September 2 and the argument took place on September 5, but Judge Joe Barkon denied the motion on grounds that the guilty verdict rendered by the jury against the seven defendants supports the weight of the evidence presented in court by the prosecution.
Barkon said a motion for a new trial may only be granted if the verdict is contrary to the weight of the evidence. He added that the jury did not only consider the statements of co-defendants Moses Solo and Alex Karpeh when making its decision.
The defense had also countered that the prosecution failed to produce a medical report confirming that the victims had been raped, but Judge Barkon said the testimonies provided by the two victims and corroborated by other testimonies point to the victims being raped.
“Wherefore and in view of the foregoing facts and circumstances and the laws applicable herein, it is the ruling of this court that the motion for new trial is hereby denied and the resistance thereof sustained,” Barkon said.
“This act of the defendants is wicked, grossly inhumane and dehumanizing, indifferent to human value, [cruel], uncivilized, barbaric.”
Barkon directed the court’s clerk to notify the superintendent of the Buchanan Central Prison of the court’s final judgment. However, the defense counsel decided to appeal to the Supreme Court, which will review the case in March 2020.
Meanwhile, prosecution lawyers took exception to the sentencing, noting that the period of 25 years was the bare minimum required by law.
After the sentencing, three of the defendants – Dennis Pyne Nimely, Victor Solo and Sylvester Charty – maintained their claims of innocence. They added that they are hopeful of being freed when the case appears at the Supreme Court.
Nimely said he is the only breadwinner for his family and his incarceration for 25 years for crimes that he did not commit would be a setback to his family.
“It is only by the grace of God they are currently surviving,” he said. “I don’t even know their situation now. They expected me to be free and go back home, but it is on the contrary.”
Last week, one of Liberia’s leading newspapers, the Daily Observer, published an enthusiastic article, lauding the judiciary system in Liberia, following the jury’s conclusion that 7 defendants in the Sinoe murder case (‘the Johnny Town Murder Trial’) were found guilty of murder, gang rape, aggravated assault, criminal conspiracy and criminal facilitation. The article focuses on harmful traditional practices in Liberia, such as Female Genital Mutilation (FGM), forcible initiation into secret societies, trial by ordeal (particularly the use of sassywood), accusations of witchcraft, and ritualistic killings. The authors conclude that the verdict rendered in the Johnny’s Town Case is a landmark example.
The article provides a useful summary of the case, its background and significance, and is therefore highly recommended. I fully agree with the main conclusion: “This landmark verdict has brought great relief to survivors and their families and set the right precedence that would possibly deter would-be perpetrators of harmful traditional practices in Liberia.” (webmaster FVDK).
Published: September 3, 2019 By: National Institute for Public Opinion (NIPO) and Foundation for Community Initiatives (FCI) – published by the Daily Observer
Late last year, three young Liberian women in Johnny Town, Kpayan District, Sinoe County, were accused by a group of community dwellers of kidnapping a three-month-old child for witchcraft rituals. Angeline Saydee, Florence Tarkleh and Willete Nyewallah were subjected to trial by ordeal and abused, tortured and gang raped. One of the women, Willete, was killed. Another was hospitalized and later discharged. Stories surrounding the third woman, who happens to be the mother of the missing child, are quite conflicting.
It is said that Willete, who was killed in this incident, was few months pregnant prior to her unfortunate death. All the accused women fervently denied involvement in witchcraft and in the disappearance of the child. These women experienced unimaginable abuse. They were stripped naked before public glare and paraded from one corner of the town to another; thereafter, they were taken into the bush and subjected to trial by ordeal and to other violent crimes. Before these young women were abducted, tortured and one killed, they were living peaceful lives with their families and loved ones.
The young men accused of these crimes allegedly committed these inhumane acts under the orders of some traditional leaders, including a female traditionalist who allegedly subjected the women to trial by ordeal.
Harmful Traditional Practices in Liberia
Trial by ordeal is a harmful traditional practice in which suspects are subjected to torture and other forms of inhumane or degrading treatment or punishment. The practice is usually done in extremely brutal manner and is intended to have suspects forcefully (and likely falsely) confessing guilt. The pain that comes with trial by ordeal is often raw and severe and can force people to confess guilt even if they were not the actual doers of the act for which ,they were accused. This practice has been outlawed by the Government of Liberia but it still persists.
An UNMIL and the United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights assessment of Harmful Traditional Practices in Liberia found that some traditional and cultural practices common to many Liberian ethnic communities have a significantly negative impact on the enjoyment of fundamental human rights. These include FGM, forcible initiation into secret societies, trial by ordeal (particularly the use of sassywood), accusations of witchcraft, and ritualistic killings. The assessment found that “these practices have particularly affected certain groups such as women, children, elderly persons, persons with disabilities, as well as the poorest Liberians” ( UNMIL and OHCHR 2015-An Assessment of Human Rights Issues Emanating from Traditional Practices in Liberia p.2).
This high prevalence is fundamentally why we believe that all must be done to step up the fight against harmful traditional practices. A critical starting point was ensuring the rule of law with particular focus on increasing access to justice for women and girls. We submit here that the verdict rendered in the Johnny’s Town Case is a landmark example!
Civil Society Supports the Survivors
Immediately after these vicious crimes committed against Angeline Saydee, Florence Tarkleh and Willete Nyewallah came to light, the National Institute for Public Opinion (NIPO) coordinated county-level advocacy actions with the active involvement of the Sinoe County Women Platform and the Foundation for Community Initiatives (FCI). Soon after, the case captured national and international attention. The Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Protection got involved, as did some concerned Liberian women and women’s organizations.
At national level, advocacy actions were coordinated by the Women NGO Secretariat of Liberia (WONGOSOL) in close collaboration with NIPO and FCI. As part of these actions, the coalition presented its position statement to the National Legislature, calling on the Government of Liberia to provide reparation for survivors, relocate and resettle survivors and transfer the case to neutral location to avoid “local interference” or “manipulation”. Copies of this statement were presented to key embassies near Monrovia including the American and British Embassies. Subsequently, ten arrests were made and the case was transferred from the 3rd Judicial Circuit Court in Sinoe County to the 2nd Judicial Circuit Court in Grand Bassa County. The case was scheduled to be heard during the August Term of Court.
The August Term of Court opened on August 12th, 2019 and the Johnny’s Town Murder Case was the first on the docket. Seven persons indicted for murder, gang rape, aggravated assault, criminal conspiracy and criminal facilitation faced a jury trial with fifteen jurors handing down the verdict. Initially, ten persons were arrested, indicted and taken to court in relation to this case. Three were nolleprosequoi, (the legal term for dropping charges against an accused for lack of evidence). Final arguments in the case were heard on Friday, August 30. Immediately thereafter, the jury unanimously handed down a guilty verdict against all seven indictees.
Sinoe County Women Platform
Prior to the opening of the August Term of Court, NIPO and FCI jointly sponsored ten members of the Sinoe County Women Platform to Grand Bassa County to continue advocacy actions and witness legal proceedings. The sponsorship covered the travel, accommodation and feeding of the ten-member team. They arrived in Grand Bassa County on the 10th of August and were met on arrival by NIPO and FCI. Advocacy in Grand Bassa was coordinated and executed alongside the Grand Bassa Women Development Association (BAWODA).
The women gathered before the 2nd Judicial Circuit Court holding placards with inscriptions such as “No Excuse for Abuse” and “They Deserve Justice”, and called for a speedy and fair trial. They were assured that there was no need for protest actions because the case was the first on the docket. This position was reinforced by the president of the Grand Bassa County Bar Association who spoke with the women and assured them that the Bar would do everything necessary to ensure that justice is served in a timely manner.
This case significantly helped the Platform to expand its network and amplify their voices at the regional level. Thanks to collaboration with the Grand Bassa Women Development Association (BAWODA). The women continuously recommitted themselves to continuing their advocacy until the case was brought to a logical end.
Lorraine G. Mennon is the chairperson for the Platform. She committed to providing leadership in planning, organizing and implementing continuous advocacy actions and coordinating activities of the Platform until perpetrators were brought to book. She described the unanimous guilty verdict as a magnificent precedence and prayed that the state takes similar action against other people indicted for harmful traditional practices and violence against women and girls across Liberia. Madam Mennon informed NIPO and FCI that they will keep the Platform proactive, indicating that smaller community awareness actions will be organized and implemented to inform local women and girls about the effects of harmful traditional practices, expand knowledge and information about the Platform and create linkages with towns and villages with the view of monitoring, documenting, reporting and advocating against these bad cultural practices.
NIPO’s Lawyer joined the Prosecution Team
On Monday, August 12th, NIPO’s lawyer, Atty. Freeman, joined the prosecution team and promised to put his legal and research expertise to the disposal of the government towards winning the case. He promised to play active role in the cross examination of defense witnesses but later restricted his role to liaising with and motivating state lawyers. He told NIPO that after examining all the pieces of evidence against the accused, proof was evident and presumption great for their conviction. Atty. Freeman was hired and is paid by NIPO’s access to justice project, funded by UNDP-Liberia through Oxfam.
The Johnny’s Town Trial was a landmark case involving harmful traditional practices which inflicted serious injuries on two of three young Liberian women. This inhumane and criminal act led to the gruesome death of one of the victims and the hospitalization of another. Due to sustained advocacy actions at both the county and national levels, ten arrests were made, the case transferred to a neutral location and the survivors relocated. Legal proceedings in the case began in this August Term of Court. NIPO, FCI, Sinoe Women’s Platform and other women’s groups including the Bassa Women Development Association (BAWODA), were very unwavering in supporting the survivors’ protection and access to justice in this case.
NIPO and FCI’s advocacy around this case was supported by Oxfam with funding from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Netherlands. The project, called “Funding Leadership Opportunities for Women” or FLOW, has the goals of promoting women’s rights to be heard and to live free from violence. The FLOW Project has successfully run in Liberia since 2016.
The lawyer hired by NIPO to support the State’s case is paid by the UNDP through Oxfam. This project is called “Strengthening Access to Justice for Women and Girls in Sinoe and Grand Gedeh.”
Due process was necessary to rendering justice against harmful traditional practices, protecting women and girls from the dangers of the practice, punishing perpetrators for wrongful actions and finding redress for victims and survivors. This landmark verdict has brought great relief to survivors and their families and set the right precedence that would possibly deter would-be perpetrators of harmful traditional practices in Liberia.
Disclaimer: This article does not necessarily reflect the views of Oxfam, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Netherlands, or the UNDP.
The article below – published by Liberia’s leading newspaper FrontPageAfrica – reports that on August 30, the Trial Jury of the Grand Bassa County Circuit Court unanimously found seven defendants guilty in the Sinoe murder case. This is not consistent with an earlier article, published by The Bush Chicken – another well known Liberian newspaper – which reported that 10 of the 12 jurors voted for a guilty verdict, while 2 abstained (see my September 2 posting).
Judge Joe Barkon of the 2nd Judicial Circuit Court in Grand Bassa County is to hand down final ruling in the Sinoe County murder case on Monday, September 9.
Monrovia – Court sources at the 2nd Judicial Circuit Court in Grand Bassa County, have disclosed that Judge Joe Barkon is to hand down final ruling in the Sinoe County gang rape and murder case, on Monday, September 9.
The judge’s ruling will be followed by the sentencing of the seven defendants found guilty of murder and gang rape in
Trial Jury of the Grand Bassa County Circuit Court Friday, August 30, unanimously found the defendants guilty in the murder and gang-rape case.
This comes after more than two weeks of legal battle between government lawyers, led by Cllr. Wesseh Alphonsus Wesseh, Assistant Justice Minister for Litigation, and Defense lawyers, led by Cllr. Paul Philip Jarvan.
Judge Barkon reserved ruling into the case last Friday, August 30, in line with the law that provides for time in sentencing of Defendants who are found guilty.
The seven guilty defendants are Moses Solo, Ellis Karpeh, Sylvester Chardy, Swen Kelgbeh, Teah Gmanwolou, Victor Solo and Pyne Nyene. They will be sentenced for Murder, Gang Rape, aggravated Assault, Criminal Conspiracy and Facilitation.
The defendants were among 10 persons who were arrested by state security and indicted in Greenville City, Sinoe County in 2018 after they accused three ladies, Williete Nyenwlah, Angeline Saydee and Florence Tarklay, for being responsible for the disappearance of a four-year-old child in Johnny Town, Normorpoe District, Sinoe County on December 12, 2018.
The three women were stripped naked and paraded publicly in the town and then taken to the society bush where they were allegedly tortured and sexually abused with the men inserting sticks into their private parts resulting to the death of one them, Williete, who was buried secretly in a swampland.
The case was to be heard in Greenville Sinoe County but state prosecutors requested for a change of venue to the 2nd Judicial Circuit Court in Grand Bassa County based on what the prosecutors termed as due to local prejudice.
As the case was called for trial this August 2019 Term and before the reading of the indictment to the defendants, Cllr. Wesseh A. Wesseh, Assistant Justice Minister for Litigation, entered a plea of Nolle Prosequoi (free) in favor of three co-defendants, Anthony Karmon Marshall Gballa and Shelton Kelgbeh for lack of sufficient evidence to prosecute them while the rest of the defendants were arraigned and pleaded not guilty to the multiple charges.
During the trial, the state produced five general witnesses including the two survivors and three rebuttal witnesses.
While on the witness stand, two of the five co-defendants, Moses Solo and Alex Karpeh, described themselves as the “devil’s spokesperson” and the town crier of Jonny Town, respectively, though they denied the allegations but admitted been present and member of the country society that took custody of the victims.
The two co-defendants said the deceased died after she was questioned by the country devil, who shouted at her and she allegedly dropped dead after she was transformed into a dragon and that her left eye was removed and given to her father who according to the defendants turned her over to the society people or country devil.
However, the other five co-defendants denied been members of the secret society and that they were not in Johnny Town when the incident occurred and that they were arrested based on mistaken identity by the Liberia National Police.
Their testimonies prompted the state lawyers to introduce the father of the deceased as one of its three rebuttal witnesses who denied been the head of the Zoe people and that it was him who turned his daughter over to the country devil to be penalized for been a “witch.”
During the final legal argument, state lawyers argued that the defendants were under obligation to have brought in witnesses to prove their defense that they were arrested based on mistaken identity; but they miserably fail to do same while the Defense lawyer, Cllr. Paul Jarvan, counter argued that the state did not prove its allegation against the defendants.
The other defendants, who claimed that they were not in the town of the incident, did not produce witnesses to testify that they were not in the town when the incident occurred.
Yesterday I posted an article Liberia: ‘Devils’ and ‘Deagons’ – defendant details victim’s death. While searching the internet for more news concerning this case I stumbled upon this Front Page Africa article (dated June 12, 2019). It contains no specific new developments, but provides nonetheless some valuable information which I do not want to withhold the readers (webmaster FVDK).
Published: June 12, 2019 By: Front Page Africa
Monrovia – The much-publicized “witchcraft case” in Sinoe County involving nine defendants – all men – has been transferred from Greenville to Buchanan, Grand Bassa County for trial.
The nine defendants are charged with murder, gang rape, aggravated assault, and criminal facilitation in connection with the humiliation of three ladies accused of witchcraft activities in that part of the country.
Assistant Justice Minister For Litigation at the Ministry of Justice, Wesseh Alphonsus Wesseh told FrontPAgeAfrica Tuesday, June 11, that the Government of Liberia has decided to prioritize the prosecution of the nine Defendants and assured the public that everything will be done to ensure the Defendants get a free, fair and transparent trial.
Cllr. Wesseh then frowned on individuals bent on engaging in “jungle justice,” stating that trial by ordeal was outlawed by the Supreme Court since 1916, adding that it has no place for “contemporary society like Liberia”.
Those nine Defendants from Sinoe County that were transferred over the weekend to the Buchanan Central Prison to face trial during the current May 2019 Term of Court are: Moses Solo Jr, Shelton Kelgbeh, Teah Gmawlue, Marshall Gbala, Anthony Karmoh: others are Tweh Keglbeh, Wilson Pyne, alias Swen Pyne, Victor Solo, and Sylvester T. Cherdy.
The defendants were indicted early this year by the Grand Jury of the 3rd Judicial Circuit Court sitting in the provincial capital, Greenville Sinoe County.
The case presented below refers to a posting of early this year, on January 26, entitled More women in ritualistic killings in Sinoe County (published by The New Dawn, January 25, 2019). As noted in the article below it is a bizar, strange story and there is no proof that any of the defendants in the murder trial speaks the truth. However, the trial clearly establishes that traditional societies in which witchcraft and juju medicine play an important role still exist in Liberia. It is only one step further to the criminal practices of ritualistic killings. Did the father of the late Willette Nyewallah make this step?
We may never know the answer. However, we will continue to follow up on this story and, in case new developments occur, will inform you accordingly (webmaster FVDK).
BUCHANAN, Grand Bassa – A suspect in the Sinoe gang rape and murder trial has testified in court, accusing the father of the late Willette Nyewallah of ordering his daughter’s murder.
Moses Solo is one of ten suspects the government is trying for torturing and gang-raping three women accused of witchcraft and murdering one of them.
Solo, who acknowledged being a member of the traditional society and called himself the spokesperson for the ‘devil,’ testified last week accusing the victim’s father, Amos Nyewallah, of being the acting traditional chairman of the district.
He said when the three women were turned over to the traditional society because they had been accused of witchcraft, Amos Nyewallah called the devil to come take the women away. The town crier then asked all those around to go indoors, he said.
Solo said once all townspeople were indoor, the devil took the three women to the boundaries of the town. He said it was then that Amos Nyewallah ordered the devil to take away his daughter and extract a body part of hers to use in ritual to solidify his position within the traditional society.
“He told us that he wanted something from his daughter’s body to correct his medicine because the position he currently occupies is someone else’s position, but the person was suspended and if the suspended traditional chairman pays his fine, he could come back to his position,” Solo explained, noting that the victim’s father asked for her left eye.
In a bizarre twist of an already strange tale, Solo said the pain brought on by the removal of the victim’s eye drove her to get angry and she transformed into a dragon to attack the devil. Provoked, the devil then knocked the victim down, killing her. Solo said she was buried near a small creek at 6:30 p.m.
Although activities occurring within the traditional society are meant to be completely secret, Solo said he could not hide anything because the matter has reached to the court.
He also claimed that members of the traditional society were less likely to have raped the women because a traditional law had been passed by the devil that would fine anyone found guilty of rape US$50 and one bag of rice.
He said the two survivors do not know the identities of their rapists, but he knows them. Solo added that of all the suspects on trial, only he and Alex Carpeh, who was also on trial, were members of the traditional society.
On Tuesday, August 27, Amos Nyewallah, the victim’s father, took the witness stand to deny Solo’s allegations that he ordered his own daughter’s death.
While he acknowledged being a member of the traditional society, he said he held no position there and warned that Solo’s statements could damage his reputation.
Nyewallah noted that he worked through the commissioner’s office as chairman of Nomorpoe District, where he is responsible for settling disputes between residents and the Golden Veroleum concession company.
Nyewallah further said he was not present when the incident occurred, but when he returned, he went on the scene at about 6:00 p.m. to where the women were being held to ask the traditional people to release his daughter. His request was, however, refused.
Nyewallah said he then went to the commissioner to complain, but the commissioner told him to continue to plead with the traditional people.
The following day, Nyewallah said he was informed by one of the survivors, Florence Tarkleh, that his daughter had been killed and buried. He said when that happened, family members of the defendants took large sums of money to him to appease him over the death of his daughter, but he told them that the matter was now before the government.
For his part, the district commissioner of Nonorpoe, Alfred Jawolo, corroborated Nyewallah’s story that the victim’s father attempted to get the district commissioner to assist in releasing his daughter.
On the first day of the trial of the case, the Criminal Services Department commander for Sinoe, Joseph Doeplay, also testified that Amos Nyewallah had reported to the police that his daughter was being beaten along with two others. Doeplay said it was because of Nyewallah’s complaint that the suspects were charged and sent to court.
Meanwhile, the court has jailed a man for interfering in the trial by signaling to defendants who have been testifying. Dickson Brown, a resident of Greenville, Sinoe, was first caught signaling to defendants on August 19 when the defendants first began testifying. However, he was pardoned by the court based on the intervention of authorities from Sinoe who were also watching the trial.
The next day, Brown repeated his actions, prompting the court to charge him with contempt of court. He was placed behind bars at the Upper Buchanan Prison Compound from August 20 until August 27. After he was released, authorities directed him to avoid the premises of the Second Judicial Circuit Court until the case has ended.
This posting contains not only the article announced in it heading but also many related articles, going back as far as February 1, 2018 when the news of the missing girl and baby first broke out. The gruesome crime got much attention in South African newspapers. It shows once again the vulnerability of people with albinism in South Africa. However, the South African judicial system is to be complimented this time for its swift actions and the punishment of the perpetrators.
Also see my November 5, 2018 posting with an article on this murder case plus the stealing of body parts from a 28-year-old albino man just hours after he was buried, and my posting of November 6, 2018, with a more general but highly recommended article, ‘Why Albions are being murdered in South Africa’, by Tom Head (webmaster FVDK).
Published: August 22, 2019 By: Etsey Atisu (face2faceAfrica)
A 40-year-old South African teacher, Josiah Thubane, has admitted guilt to kidnapping and killing a 13-year-old girl with albinism, Gabisile Shabane, for a ritual referred to locally as muti.
The man, who is only one of four men accused of the crime, also abducted a 15-month-old baby without albinism and later threw her alive off a bridge to drown in a dam near the N4 highway, reports the Sowetan Live.
He pleaded guilty to all charges including two counts of premeditated murder, two counts of kidnapping, housebreaking with intent to commit murder and one count of violation of a corpse.
Thubane, a teacher by profession and father of four, apologized to the family as he was escorted to the holding cells.
According to the Sowetan Live, mother of Gabisile, Anna Shabane told the the Middelburg High Court in Mpumalanga that her family has had to beef up security at home since the incident that took place in 2018.
In January 2018, Gabisile was abducted by some men from her home at Hlalakahle in eMalahleni area of Mpumalanga in 2018 along with her 15-month-old baby cousin, Nkosikhona Ngwenya.
The group of men allegedly wanted her body parts for muti purposes.
In a statement read out in court, Thubane said that he was part of the plan to kill Gabisile and admitted that he knew she was being abducted to be killed for her body parts. He also admitted to killing baby Nkosikhona.
“I admit that on the 27-28 of January 2018 I did unlawfully and intentionally kill the baby by throwing him off the bridge of Zaalklap River. I admit that on the next day in Cullinan, I killed Gabisile Shabane, a 13-year-old,” reports the Sowetan Live.
Testifying in court, Anna Shabane said she still has flashbacks of the day she found her daughter’s headless and decomposed body with missing body parts.
“I was close to my daughter, and her twin sister Khanyisile has been more shattered by her sister’s passing. The manner in which she was killed makes me feel that they should have taken me and not her,” reports the Sowetan Live.
“I replay the vivid images in my head over and over again and I keep hoping she would come back. She was young and had a bright future ahead of her,” Shabane added.
The prosecutor on the case, Ntsika Mpolweni, told the court the victim’s report revealed that the mother of the murdered 15-month-old baby, Nompumelelo Ngwenya, had been psychologically affected since the mother was breastfeeding him when he was abducted.
The Sowetan Live reports that according to social workers, the family continues to live in fear and had become overprotective of the remaining child as they fear he could also be attacked and killed.
“The fear is so extreme that the [toddler] cannot even go and play outside with other children and that is as the result of the attack, abduction and killing of two of their children.”
Thokozani Msibi, a traditional healer; Brilliant Mkhize and Knowledge Mhlanga, the other three men who face the same charges, will however appear in court again on May 25 next year.
Related: Teacher admits chopping up teen girl with albinism
Published: August 21, 2019 By: Promise Marupeng (Sowetan Live)
The family of a slain 13-year-old girl with albinism are so terrified of muthi killers that they have made their toddler a prisoner in his own home.
Yesterday, Anna Shabane – the mother of 13-year-old Gabisile – told the Middelburg High Court that the family has had to beef up security at home.
Gabisile was killed after she was abducted from her home in Hlalakahle in eMalahleni, Mpumalanga, last year by a group of men who allegedly wanted her body parts for muti purposes.
Gabisile’s 15-month-old baby cousin, who didn’t have albinism, Nkosikhona Ngwenya, was also abducted with her and later thrown alive off a bridge to drown in a dam near the N4 highway.
One of the four men accused of the double murders, Josiah Thubane, 40, pleaded guilty on all charges including two counts of premeditated murder, two counts of kidnapping, housebreaking with intent to commit murder and one count of violation of a corpse.
Speaking in aggravation of Thubane’s sentence, Shabane told the high court that her family was living in fear and that her daughter’s killing has destroyed her family.
“I was close to my daughter, and her twin sister Khanyisile has been more shattered by her sister’s passing. The manner in which she was killed makes me feel that they should have taken me and not her,” she said sobbing.
Shabane told the court that she still has flashbacks of the day she found her daughter’s headless and decomposed body with missing body parts.
“I replay the vivid images in my head over and over again and I keep hoping she would come back. She was young and had a bright future ahead of her,” said the mother.
Shabane also revealed that after security was beefed up by installing CCTV cameras and building a high wall at her house, rumour swelled that she had sold her children.
“I was helped by the municipality after my family was attacked to build a wall around my home and to put in cameras, but my community accused me of selling my children for money to renovate my home,” said the mother.
Prosecutor Ntsika Mpolweni told the court the victim’s report revealed that the mother of the murdered 15-month-old baby, Nompumelelo Ngwenya, was psychologically affected. Mpolweni said when the child was abducted Ngwenya was breastfeeding him.
The prosecutor further said according to social workers, the family lived in fear and was overprotective of the remaining child as they feared he could also be killed.
“The fear is so extreme that the [toddler] cannot even go and play outside with other children and that is as the result of the attack, abduction and killing of two of their children.”
In a statement read out in court, Thubane said that he was part of the plan to kill Gabisile and admitted that he knew she was being abducted to be killed for her body parts.
Thubane also admitted to killing baby Nkosikhona.
“I admit that on the 27-28 of January 2018 I did unlawfully and intentionally kill the baby by throwing him off the bridge of Zaalklap River. I admit that on the next day in Cullinan, I killed Gabisile Shabane, a 13-year-old,” said Thubane.
Thubane, a teacher by profession and father of four, apologised to the family as he was escorted to the holding cells.
Three of his co-accused in the case – Thokozani Msibi, a traditional healer, Brilliant Mkhize and Knowledge Mhlanga – who face the same charges, will appear in court again on May 25 next year.
Mpolweni said that Thubane was not remorseful for the gruesome murder of the two children.
“He only cooperated after he was caught and nothing justified slaughtering Gabisile and chopping off her head, left arm, removing her heart, liver, genital parts that came as proof supported by the postmortem,” said Mpolweni.
Mpolweni further asked the judge to consider the fact that a baby was thrown off a bridge like a stone into a stream of water to die.
“Did he ever ask himself what trauma and pain the Shabane and Ngwenya families have gone through after their actions?”
Mpolweni further said the perpetrators deserved no lighter sentence than life imprisonment.
The matter was postponed to Friday for sentencing.
Related: Traditional healer to be sentenced for muti murder of albino teen, baby
Published: August 20, 2019 By: Nonkululeko Njilo (Sowetan Live)
A traditional healer in Mpumalanga who admitted killing a teen who had albinism and her baby cousin for muti to boost his business will soon learn how long he will spend behind bars.
Sentencing proceedings against Themba Thubane were expected to commence on Tuesday in the Middelburg high court.
The National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) confirmed that Thubane pleaded guilty to seven charges.
Provincial NPA spokesperson Monica Nyuswa said the man admitted to killing Gabisile Shabane, 13, and her 15-month-old cousin Nkosikhona Ngwenya in order to extract muti from them to revive his failing business.
Thubane was arrested with co-accused Thokozani Msibi‚ Brilliant Mkhize‚ and Knowledge Mhlanga in 2018, after they allegedly broke into the Shabane household in Hlalanikahle‚ Mpumalanga.
The three co-accused have pleaded not guilty and are expected to return to court on May 25, 2020.
The group was armed during the break-in when they kidnapped the victims and allegedly later murdered them.
Thubane will be sentenced on charges including murder, kidnapping, housebreaking with intent to murder, and the violation of a corpse, according to Nyuswa.
More than a year since the tragic ordeal, the family expressed relief at the commencement of sentencing proceedings.
In an interview with eNCA, family spokesperson Chantel Ngwenya said the delays had caused unbearable pain to the family.
“We’re really happy the trial has commenced because we have been waiting for a long time. The waiting was killing us as a family. We are happy even though the others did not admit to committing the crime. It’s painful to us, it shows that they are not remorseful for the pain they’ve caused us.”
On Thubane’s guilty plea, Ngwenya said: “We hope that we will be able to find closure from the one that admitted to committing the crime. To us it shows he is remorseful, he has a conscience inside him, he regrets it.”
The family hopes the sentence will take into account the immense pain caused to them by the killings.
Related: DNA test delayed as murdered albino girl forced to drink brake fluid
Published: June 2, 2018 By: eNCA
WITBANK – The family of 14-year-old Gabisile Shabane, one of two children who were kidnapped from their home in Hlalanikahle in Witbank in Mpumalanga in January and later found murdered, on Friday said that DNA tests on her body were delayed because she was forced to drink brake fluid mixed with dagga shortly before she was murdered.
Gabisile’s mother Annah Shabane said they have received the DNA test results for another murdered child, 15-month-old boy Nkosikhona Ngwenya, from the South African Police Service two weeks ago.
“It’s very painful to wait for months to bury our children,” Shabane said speaking to reporters outside the Witbank Magistrate’s Court, shortly after four men – Thokozani Msibi, Brilliant Mkhize, Themba Thubane and Knowledge Mhlanga – appeared in connection with the kidnapping and murder.
“The DNA tests must be completed so that we can bury those children. Our lives are very difficult. We often think and talk about this matter.”
Provincial spokesperson for the National Prosecuting Authority, Monica Nyuswa, told the African News Agency that the DNA tests were delayed because Gabisile’s body was contaminated with brake fluid.
“The DNA tests will still be completed,” Nyuswa said.
On 4 April, State Prosecutor Fanie Mavundla told the same court that Gabisile was forced to drink brake fluid mixed with dagga, allegedly by one of the accused, shortly before she was murdered.
Mpumalanga police spokesperson Leonard Hlathi said Friday officials were ready to give the Shabane family Nkosikhona’s body if they wanted it.
The children were kidnapped from their home on28 January, allegedly by three men who entered the house through a broken window.
Gabisile’s headless body was found buried in a shallow grave in Cullinan in the east of Pretoria in the third week of February with some body parts missing.
The body of Nkosikhona, who is not an albino, was found on the side of the N4 freeway in Mpumalanga in the same week.
The case was postponed to 14 August for further investigations.
Related: Nine months after she was mutilated and killed‚ 13-year-old Gabisile Shabane will finally be laid to rest
Published: October 11, 2018 By: Naledi Shange (Sowetan Live)
Almost nine months after being abducted from her home and killed for her body parts‚ 13-year-old Gabisile Shabane who had albinism‚ will finally be laid to rest.
The Mpumalanga Community Security Department has announced that she and her one-year-old nephew Nkosikhona Ngwenya will be buried in Witbank next week.
Their burial had been delayed for months on end as DNA tests had yet to verify that the mutilated body parts found in different areas all belonged to Gabisile. The tests have since been concluded.
Gabisile’s headless body had been found buried in a shallow grave in Cullinan‚ east of Pretoria. It was understood that some of her other parts were found in premises belonging to one of the accused in the matter‚ while Nkosikhona had been thrown into a swamp.
It is believed that the attackers had stormed into their home in January and had mistaken the light-skinned Nkosikhona for another albino child who was in the house.
“Four suspects were arrested in February and were charged with kidnapping and murder‚” said department spokesman Joseph Mabuza.
Amongst those arrested is a traditional healer. During their bail application‚ the court had heard horrific details of how Gabisile was forced to drink brake fluid and beer and also smoke dagga shortly before her mutilation.
The suspects on Wednesday returned to the Witbank Magistrate’s Court‚ where their case was postponed to August 2019 for trial. They remain behind bars.
Meanwhile‚ Mpumalanga’s MEC of Community Security Pat Ngomane was on Thursday expected to unveil the Shabane home‚ which has been renovated to tighten security.
“During his visit to the family earlier this year‚ MEC Ngomane‚ the eMalahleni Local Municipality and some stakeholders such as Highveld Steel pledged to assist the family by enhancing the security features of their house in order to prevent further break-ins‚” said Mabuza.
“Through donations‚ the MEC and the stakeholders managed to refurbish the house. The roof of the house has been redone‚ the house plastered and painted and the floor tiled. A security wall and a gate have also been completed‚” he added.
Related: ‘Let’s burn this court!’ Outrage as alleged killers of albino girl is postponed again
Published: August 14, 2018 By: Naledi Shange (Sowetan Live)
Residents of Witbank expressed outrage on Tuesday after hearing the case against four men accused of abducting and killing an albino girl and her nephew was postponed yet again.
“Let’s burn this court!” the 150-strong crowed chanted as they gathered outside the Witbank Magistrate’s Court.
The four accused appeared via satellite from the Witbank Correctional Services Centre‚ where they have been kept since their arrest.
Tensions flared outside the court behind the rolls of police tape used to keep the crowds away from the building.
“The family has stayed with a cloud of death over them for seven months and‚ according to our customs‚ this is not done‚” Taylor Pookgoadi‚ the district secretary of the SA Communist Party in Nkangala told the crowd of supporters.
While‚ the family and scores of other supporters had arrived at the court hoping for the matter to commence‚ it became apparent that the matter was not quite ready for trial.
“It doesn’t seem like there will be much progress when we come back on October 10‚” Pookgoadi told the crowd. “We want the case to simply be moved to a bigger court.”
The case had been postponed after it was found that a fifth suspect was yet to be extradited from Swaziland‚ where he also faces other charges.
Also‚ the DNA results‚ which would determine if the body parts found in different locations were that of 13-year-old Gabisile Shabane‚ who had been mutilated‚ were yet to be obtained.
Gabisile’s 15-month-old nephew‚ Nkosikhona Ngwenya‚ was abducted with her.
It is believed that the attackers who had stormed their home in January and had mistaken the light-skinned toddler for another albino child who was in the house. His remains were found dumped in a swamp near the N4 highway.
Trudy Xhala-Mavimbela‚ from the office of the mayor‚ said the family had found themselves in a tricky situation because not all of Gabisile’s body parts had been found.
“We can’t bury them until the suspects [hand over] the rest of the body parts‚” Xhala- Mavimbela said.
“This matter has been dragging on since January. Government needs to speed things up so that the family can find peace. This has been traumatic for the family‚” she added‚ addressing the crowds.
On Tuesday‚ two of the alleged killers bowed their heads‚ avoiding contact with the camera that showed their faces to the court. The third beamed his bright smile as he saw the crowds of people seated in the court gallery‚ while the fourth accused simply stared straight forward.
Gabisile’s sister‚ the mother of Nkosikhona‚ stared at the screen‚ glaring at the men accused of taking her son and her sister’s life.
After proceedings‚ she‚ her mother and other relatives who had packed the court stood outside‚ where they briefly spoke to the media.
They expressed concern at the delay in the case.
“We are not happy with how things are progressing‚” said Sibongile Shabane.
They expressed their displeasure at how abruptly court proceedings had ended as one of the accused had raised his hand‚ requesting to speak to his lawyer.
The lawyer stepped out of the courtroom to give his client‚ who was at the prison‚ a call.
The matter was temporarily adjourned but minutes later the lawyer returned and left the court‚ leaving the court orderlies to explain that‚ as previously stated‚ the matter had simply been postponed to October.
Meanwhile‚ a source close to the family spoke to the trauma that the family faced as they frequently went to the mortuary to check on the corpses of the children‚ adding that the body parts were wilting away in the ice.
The worst part‚ however‚ was that even as court proceedings were scheduled to continue in October‚ there was no guarantee that the DNA tests would be ready and the bodies would be released for the burial‚ he said.
Related: Body parts found at home of muti-murder accused
Published: March 7, 2018 By: eNCA
WITBANK – Police found a human head and other human body parts at the home of traditional healer Thokozani Msibi in eMalahleni in Mpumalanga last month.
Msibi was arrested in connection with the kidnapping and murder of two children, one of whom was living with albinism, the eMalahleni Magistrate’s Court&39;s heard on Tuesday.
State prosecutor opposed bail, who appeared with his co-accused Brilliant Mkhize. He said Msibi also showed the police a shallow grave in Cullinan, east of Pretoria, where the body of a 14-year-old girl with albinism, Gabisile Shabane, was found buried last month.
“Our witness said he was there when Gabisile was chopped off,” said Mavundla, which led to Gabisile’s mother Annah Shabane, who was sitting in the public gallery, to sob loudly.
“That witness said he carried that girl on his back. The accused (Msibi) then went to a traditional healer in Swaziland and asked him to cleanse him of bad luck. He was going to pay that traditional healer with a vagina of a girl, but the traditional healer refused. That traditional healer is also a State witness.”
Gabisile and a 15-month-old boy, Nkosikhona Ngwenya, were kidnapped from their home in Hlalanikahle in eMalahleni on January 28, allegedly by three men who entered their home after breaking a window. Nkosikhona’s body was found on the side of the N4 highway last month.
Mavundla told the court that the same state witness told the police that Gabisile’s body parts were chopped off by a “Mr Gamede” from Swaziland, who was alleged to be with Msibi and others. He said some of the missing parts from Gabisile’s body were not found.
Msibi’s lawyer, Zamo Sibisi, earlier argued that his client was tortured and forced to make statements after he was arrested.
“The accused stated that whatever statements or pointing out (of crime scenes) he made was not done voluntarily,” said Sibisi.
Magistrate Darleen Venter denied Msibi bail and postponed the matter to March 13 so that Mkhize could get a legal representative.
Related: Policeman reveals horror he found at sangoma’s premises
Published: February 28, 2018 By: Naledi Shange (Sowetan Live)
A police officer has described the trauma that he and other officers experienced when they discovered remains believed to be those of Gabisile Shabani‚ a 13-year-old albino girl who was murdered‚ allegedly as part of a muti ritual.
The premises in Emalahleni in Mpumalanga belonged to a traditional healer‚ who was arrested last week.
“The dog was first put in there‚ but it came out with nothing‚” said the officer‚ who asked not to be named.
“The dog seemed weak and disorientated as it came out of the room. The dog handler asked [the traditional healer] what he had done to his dog and he said there was strong muti in there‚” the officer said.
Inside the room‚ police officers found muti‚ buckets and bags with various substances‚ and what appeared to be body parts.
“He was telling us what was in each thing. He was speaking like a normal person‚ like you and I. It was really disturbing‚” said the officer.
Gabisile’s beheaded body was found in a shallow grave in Cullinan near Pretoria last week. This was three weeks after she and her 15-month-old nephew‚ Nkosikhona Ngwenya‚ were taken at gunpoint in the middle of the night by three men who broke into their home in Hlalanikahle.
It was alleged that the gunmen had mistaken Nkosikhona for another toddler in the house‚ who also has albinism.
The badly decomposed body of the little toddler was recovered on the same day Gabisile’s body was found. He had been thrown into a swamp along the N4.
The officer said he was disturbed to learn from pathologists conducting the post-mortem how Gabisile’s body had been mutilated.
Meanwhile‚ two other people have also been arrested in connection with the incident‚ said the officer. They were arrested in Swaziland and are yet to be brought back to South Africa.
The 32-year-old traditional healer remains in police custody. He appeared in the Witbank Magistrate’s Court on Tuesday as a group of residents gathered outside the court to protest against his release. The father of four will return to court on March 6‚ when his formal bail application is expected to continue.
Related: Bodies believed to be those of two children snatched from their home in Witbank last month found
Published: February 21, 2018 By: Naledi Shange (Sowetan Live)
Two bodies believed to be those of a little albino girl and her one-year-old nephew who were snatched from their home in Hlalanikahle‚ Witbank‚ last month were found on Wednesday.
Brigadier Leonard Hlathi said one of the corpses was found in Cullinan while the other was found in a swamp on the N4 en route to Pretoria.
“The bodies were in a bad state‚” Hlathi said.
“A postmortem needs to be conducted to determine the cause of death and DNA tests to also confirm it is them‚” he said.
Gabisile Shabani‚ 13‚ and her 15-month-old nephew‚ Nkosikhona Ngwenya‚ were kidnapped last month by armed gunmen who broke into their house in the middle of the night.
Relatives said they believed Gabisile had been taken because she was an albino. They also told TimesLIVE they believed Nkosikhona had been mistaken for another toddler who was in the house at the time who also lived with albinism.
Hlathi said one suspect had since been arrested.
“He will be appearing in the Witbank Magistrate’s Court today‚” Hlathi said.
It is believed the kidnappers mistakenly thought the toddler also had the condition.
Three gunmen broke a window and entered the house.
They then trashed a bedroom where some family members were sleeping, taking 13-year-old Gabisini Shabani and Nkosikhona Ngwenya at gunpoint.
Nomthandozo Ngwenya says the men took the young boy by mistake.
“She was sleeping on the floor and they grabbed her and left with her. Then the other men, also armed, went to the next room and took the little boy, thinking he too had albinism but he doesn&39;t&39;,” Ngwenya said.
She says the family fears for the two kidnapped children.
“People have always said to us, we are staying with money at this house, pointing to our children, saying we could cut their hair and sell it for thousands of rand,” explained Ngwenya.
Residents took part in a march, attended by many schoolchildren, calling for the return of the children.
Reshoketsoe Malekame, who also lives with albinism, says she fears for her life and is always on the lookout.
Most residents in the area called for an end to the targetting of albinos.
Police confirmed they were still searching for the pair and attempts to find them in the area resulted in no progress.
“We have also alerted all other nearby police stations to be on the lookout for them,” police spokesperson Leonard Hlathi said.
Two cases of kidnapping have been opened.
Hlathi urged anyone with information to contact police on 082 372 2195.
The article presented below does not represent a firm case of a ritual killing – or muti murder, as these crimes are called in southern Africa – but illustrates the daily fear of residents of countries in the region and the reaction of the population when suspecting another case of muti murder in their neighborhood. Mob justice means that the rule of law is absent. Governments must protect its citizens and punish perpetrators of heinous crimes like muti murders. People have a right to live without fear. For his reason, the article has been included here (webmaster FVDK).
Published: August 14, 2019 By: Peter Ramothwala
The death of a man has sparked a vigilante attack after his family members found he had body parts missing.
James Makhubele, 69, from Blinkwater village outside Giyani in Limpopo, was meant to be laid to rest on Sunday, but his family were shocked to discover his private parts were missing during a body viewing.
Makhubele was believed to have died in an apparent hit and run. But his family claimed he was killed and his body thrown on to the road to look like he was hit by a car.
Enraged community members, who were at the funeral, torched three houses belonging to three people they suspected of killing him and cutting the deceased’s body parts.
According to relatives, Makhubele’s body had deep cuts on the thighs and had his penis cut off.
Police spokesperson Col Moatshe Ngoepe said investigations have been broadened and a second postmortem would be conducted.Ngoepe confirmed the family had registered a complaint, regarding missing body parts of the deceased.
Makhubele’s niece Sophie Maluleke, 42, said her uncle was last seen at family gathering on August 3 when he retired for the night.
“When we got home we found that he wasn’t there. While we were still worried about where he could have went, somebody came to inform us that my uncle was hit by a car and he is dead,” Maluleke said.”We found him dripping blood from his pants, but his trousers were still intact.
“We didn’t check what caused the bleeding because we immediately called the police to the scene,” she said.
The family could not see Makhubele’s body for a week at the government mortuary in Elim because of a service delivery protest.
She said on Sunday during the funeral, rumour swirled that her uncle may have been a victim of ritual killings.
“Two men from the community volunteered to inspect the entire body during the funeral proceeding and found his private parts missing.”The deceased’s brother Rexon said they immediately called off the funeral and called the police to do further investigation.
“We were shocked. What they did to my brother is inhumane and I want whoever did this to pay.”We had already spent R20,000 for funeral costs. We had no choice, but to allow the mourners to feast,” he said.
Published: August 14, 2019 By: Staff Reported (News 24)
Mourners at a funeral of a 69-year-old man in Blinkwater village outside Giyani in Limpopo went on a rampage on Sunday when they discovered that his private parts were missing, Sowetan reported.
James Makhubele was reportedly believed to have died in a hit-and-run on August 3, but family members now believe he was the victim of a ritual killing and that his body was thrown on to the road to create the appearance that he had been hit by a car.
At the funeral, family members inspected Makhubele’s remains and reportedly discovered that body parts were missing.
This sparked a vigilante attack during which mourners burnt down three houses, one belonging to a man whom they believe to be the suspect and those of two of his employees.
According to Sowetan, police spokesperson Colonel Moatshe Ngoepe said a second post-mortem would be conducted.
However, a policeman at the local police station reportedly told the newspaper that the first post-mortem did not find that any body parts had been removed.
Incidents of mob justice continue to flare up throughout the country.
Last week, News24 reported that two men estimated to be around 30 years old were murdered by groups of people in separate vigilante attacks in the Eastern Cape.
In the same week, two women were stripped naked and set alight in the Ha-Mashau village in Limpopo. They were suspected of murdering a 12-year-old boy. Two suspects, aged 16 and 17, have been arrested.