Durban - A young woman, found on Thursday bound with ropes and held captive by a couple in a house in Eshowe for seven months, may have been kept for witchcraft purposes.
Eshowe police, who found the 24-year-old by chance while searching the house of a woman wanted for conspiracy to commit murder, also made the grisly discovery of the captive woman’s newborn child, found buried in the backyard.
Provincial police spokesman Colonel Vincent Mdunge said Eshowe police had information about a woman who was believed to be involved in a plot to kill a local traditional leader (induna).
“They proceeded to her residence in Mahuzu Ward, Vuma, in Eshowe, where they found a 58-year-old man in possession of dagga. He was the common-law husband of the woman who was being sought. He was placed under arrest and police continued to search the premises for the gun that was to be used to shoot the induna,” he said.
Mdunge said police were shocked to find a woman, bound with ropes, lying in an adjacent room. He said it was established that the young woman had been held captive since December.
“She told police she had come to Eshowe from Empangeni in November. She met and fell in love with a 17-year-old boy who was a herdsman in the area. He left in December not knowing that he had impregnated her,” he said.
The woman who owned the house had allegedly held her captive since then.
“The baby was born around July 15. It is yet to be established if the baby had been stillborn or had died after birth, but the victim informed police that the baby was buried in the yard,” he said.
Mdunge said police found recently excavated ground in the yard and discovered the body of the newborn baby.
“The victim was taken to hospital for medical attention and she will receive trauma counselling. She has family in Empangeni and police are making attempts to contact them. It is suspected, from communicating with the victim, that she has either lost her mind as a result of the trauma or she may be mentally challenged,” he said.
The 44-year-old woman was subsequently arrested and has been detained pending her appearance in the Eshowe Magistrate’s Court on Monday on charges of kidnapping, murder and conspiracy to commit murder.
Provincial Commissioner Lieutenant General Mmamonnye Ngobeni said she was shocked by the incident.
“The young woman did not get any exercise, sunshine or access to medical attention when she had the baby.
“This was a demonic act and the perpetrators must be given the harshest sentence permitted by law,” she said.
Ngobeni said the victim had gone through untold pain and suffering and they hoped that with professional medical care and counselling, she would find her place back in society.
Mdunge said it was unclear how and why the woman was held captive. But, he said, they were investigating allegations of withcraft against the suspect.