He had an affair with a nine-year-old girl’s mother and treated her as his own, spoiling her and showering her with cash and small gifts.
But when a traditional healer advised him that mixing herbs with human tissue from a girl would help boost his church’s dwindling congregation, the bishop of the Eden Zionist Church in Katlehong, Ekurhuleni, Monde Tokwe, 48, looked no further, allegedly slicing off the child’s genitals with the help of his wife.
On Monday, Detective Warrant Officer Happy Vilankulu told the Johannesburg High Court that there was a possibility that the girl, Yonelwa Sikweyiya, was still alive when her genitals and a portion of her face were sliced off in May last year - as is the case in “most ritual killings”.
“As a ritual expert, I know you remove (body) parts when the child is still alive,” Vilankulu said.
On the day of the incident, Yonelwa was seen entering Tokwe’s yard carrying a live chicken the bishop had sent her to buy. Seeing the child in a white church robe entering Tokwe’s yard roused no suspicion. She was a member of his church and regarded him as a father figure. But that was the last time she was seen alive.
“The child loved him a lot and regarded him as a father. He did everything for the child and he’d go via his girlfriend’s place before going to work to give this child money,” said Vilankulu.
But the next time Yonelwa was seen was when her mutilated body was found on an open field in Alrode. She was naked and her panties lay near her body.
Vilankulu said an informer had told him of the whereabouts of possible suspects and when he questioned Tokwe, he confessed, and indicated that his wife, Nolufefe Magasane, 50, had been involved.
She is alleged to have sliced off Yonelwa’s genitals.
“My informer came to me and said the people who killed the child are the bishop and his wife. The wife removed the parts while the child was still alive,” said Vilankulu.
Also implicated is Fundisile Sidumo, Tokwe’s right-hand man at the Eden Zionist Church, and sangoma Vusi Manyoni Mofokeng, 44.
When police went to Mofokeng’s Newcastle, KwaZulu-Natal home, they said they found him “throwing bones and consulting with a female person”.
They also found “a glass container with what appeared to be blood”. “But he said it was his blood,” said Vilankulu.
Evidence regarding the blood has not yet been placed on record.
The four people pleaded not guilty as their trial began yesterday.
Their trial, which is sitting in the Palm Ridge Magistrate’s Court due to renovations at the high court, continues tomorrow. - The Star