‘Dead’ singer in custody

maskandi INLSA The man claiming to be KwaZulu-Natal maskandi musician, Mgqumeni Khumalo, who died in late 2009.

The man claiming to be KwaZulu-Natal maskandi musician, Mgqumeni Khumalo, who died in late 2009, has been arrested.

On Sunday, thousands of fans, some from as far as Mpumalanga, Gauteng and Pretoria, flocked to Nquthu, KZN, to see for themselves whether Khumalo had returned from the dead.

The police used a water cannon after people pushed and shoved one another to get a glimpse of the man claiming to be Khumalo.

Until the man’s emergence last Sunday, Khumalo’s family believed that he had died in December 2009 while on his way to a traditional healer.

He was buried by his family in KwaGxobanyawo cemetery in a high-profile funeral in early 2010, attended by politicians, radio personalities and scores of fans.

A KZN police spokesman, Colonel Jay Naicker, said that the man claiming to be Khumalo would be questioned by detectives on Monday.

Copy of ND MGQUMENI11 [1] Thousands of people  some from as far away as Pretoria, Gauteng and Mpumalanga  arrived in Nquthu to see for themselves the return of a man claiming to be KwaZulu-Natal maskandi musician Mgqumeni Khumalo. Picture: Sibusiso Ndlovu INLSA

On Sunday a briefing was held, and the man addressed his fans for the first time since his “resurrection”.

The man, watched by a heavy police contingent, emerged from a police vehicle.

Using a loudhailer, he tried to convince his fans that he was not dead but had disappeared after he became a victim of ukuthwetshulwa (witchcraft used to capture a person’s spirit soon after death).

“I have always been alive,” he said. “I have lost a lot of weight but it is me. This is because I have been living under difficult conditions. My facial and body appearance has changed. No one can pretend to be someone else in front of so many people.”

When asked about his funeral and burial, the man said: “I want that grave that I am said to have been buried in to be dug up and the coffin to be brought up so that we can see who is inside.”

But as he spoke to fans, some were not convinced that it was Khumalo.

The crowd demanded that the man sing one of Khumalo’s songs or even play a few chords on his guitar. Others looked shocked but were willing to give him a chance to prove himself to them.

The man ignored fans’ requests to sing but instead recited his clan names to them.

Explaining his whereabouts for the past two years, the man said he had been forced to live in a cave and that his captors had wanted to insert a nail into his head to turn him into a tokoloshe (a mythical creature created by witch doctors).

“I wasn’t eating properly, that is why I look like this. I hope that I go back to my normal self again,” the man said.

He said that before he had escaped he had had visions of a Nazareth Baptist Church leader.

Sceptics wondered about the man’s gold tooth and traditional facial cuttings. They said Khumalo had not had a gold tooth and his cuttings had been more subtle.

During a briefing held at the Nquthu police station, the man failed to respond adequately to questions posed by journalists and Khumalo’s relatives.

Bonginkosi Dlamini, a resident, said the man did not look like Khumalo. “I knew Khumalo and this is not him. Maybe if he sang a song or played his guitar I would be convinced that it is him,” he said.

Dumisani Khanyile said: “I don’t think it is him.”

However, Mfihleni Delangubaso believed that Khumalo had returned from the dead.

“I can tell from the way he talks and the traditional cuttings on his face,” he said.

Mpume Khoza agreed with Delangubaso and said the man had Khumalo’s smile, eyes and forehead.

The Sunday Tribune reported that two of Khumalo’s wives and his grandmother had confirmed to them on Saturday that he had “come back from the dead”.

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