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May 18, 2004

Preacher hacked as mob rampages over dead boy

Independent Online, South Africa - May 18, 2004

By Ayanda Mhlongo

A preacher was hacked to death when outraged members of a KwaMashu community went on the rampage after the murder of a seven-year-old deaf boy.

The decapitated body of Ndumiso Mthabela, seven, who was hearing-impaired and could not speak, was found dumped near a railway line close to Durban's KwaMashu men's hostel on Sunday.

Ndumiso, who had lived with his father, Nhlanhla, and his grandmother, S'phiwe Mthabela, after his mother died, was reported missing to the local police a week ago.

Mrs Mthabela told reporters that she last saw her grandson on May 9 while he was playing with friends.

At about 6pm that evening she began to worry when Ndumiso failed to return home before dark.

"I alerted my neighbours and we immediately began to search for him. We searched throughout the night but he was nowhere to be found.

"The following day I woke up early in the morning and went to the police station to report that Ndumiso was missing," she said.

On Sunday, police received a report that there was a foul smell coming from bushes near a railway line.

When they investigated they found a boy's body without its head.

Ndumiso's family was notified and his father went to the police station and identified him as his son.

Later that evening a furious mob of men and women, carrying lethal weapons, allegedly stormed the house of an inyanga (a traditional healer), who they suspected of committing the murder.

The suspect managed to escape but the angry crowd burnt down his house and killed three tortoises and chickens he owned.

A resident who did not want to be named said: "It was absolute chaos. The people were fuming and throwing stones at his house.

"They were shouting that they wanted him to give them the boy's head."

The angry crowd then moved on to another house belonging to a preacher. It is alleged that he was assaulted and hacked with axes by the mob.

KwaMashu police spokesperson Velaphi Zulu confirmed that police found the preacher's body not far from his house. He had been hacked to death.

"The community burnt down three houses during the rampage," he said.

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