Durban - Police have arrested the priest of a northern KwaZulu-Natal church where the dismembered remains of a young boy were found.
Angry mobs had earlier burnt the church to the ground and set fire to the home and tuckshop belonging to a woman they accused of witchcraft. Police arrested 15 people for public violence.
On Saturday, after being missing for two days, the remains of 4-year-old Lungisani Ntuli - minus his torso and an arm - were discovered in a rondavel at St John’s Church.
On Monday, residents of Ncotshane village in Pongola went on the rampage, accusing the priest of the horror murder and mutilation. The church was burned on Monday night, and the house on Tuesday night.
Thokozani Myeni, a neighbour, told the Daily News on Wednesday that after police had taken the woman who had been accused of witchcraft away at 2pm on Tuesday, people had searched in her house and found what they thought was a human head and a backbone attached.
He said he had looked at the head, but could not see who it might have been.
Police said the bones would be sent for forensic analysis to determine if they were was of human origin.
Local ward councillor Jackson Mkhwanazi said on Wednesday that people had claimed to have found a T-shirt which Lungisani had worn the week before, as well as a knife, in the house.
Myeni said the mob had looted the house and tuckshop before it was burned.
Acting KwaZulu-Natal MEC for Transport, Community Safety and Liaison, Dr Sibongiseni Dhlomo, will visit Ncotshani on Wednesday. He appealed for calm in the area.
On Tuesday members of a police task team swooped on the 51-year-old priest in Pongola, police spokesman Captain Thulani Zwane said.
On Monday the priest had denied to the Daily News that he had anything to do with the killing, and that he had been in Durban for a church service when the body had been found.
Police said they had received reports of unrest in the community at about 1pm on Monday.
“Fifteen people were arrested and appeared in the Pongola Magistrate’s Court on Tuesday facing public violence charges. They were remanded in custody until July 11… Two juveniles aged 17 years were released into their parents’ custody.”
KwaZulu-Natal Provincial Commissioner Lieutenant General Mmamonnye Ngobeni joined provincial government in appealing for calm.
“The community must not take the law into their own hands by destroying property … they are putting the lives of innocent people in danger,” he said.
Lungisani’s remains were found in a rondavel at the church. His legs, one arm and head were in a grocery shopping bag. Police are still searching for the rest of the body.