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Pretoria - Trapped in a room with his grandfather’s decomposing corpse for two weeks, Kentridge Maltji watched in horror as his autistic brother bit and attacked their grandfather’s maggot-infested remains.
This is no script from a horror movie, but the real-life ordeal of two Pretoria brothers and their grandfather.
They were locked in a tiny room at their Attridgeville home by relatives who believed the trio were involved in witchcraft.
Not even the death of the old man in captivity or the fact that his body was decomposing could free the brothers.
Police spokesman Captain Bongi Msimango said police broke down the back door to the house.
“They came across the decomposing corpse as well as the autistic boy. Police further searched the house and found two women on their knees praying frantically. A man was hiding under the bed.
“The three were arrested and charged with murder, kidnapping and defeating the ends of justice. The autistic boy was taken to Kalafong Hospital.”
Msimango said the trio would appear in court on Wednesday.
From the outside, the home in Molotlebi Street looks like any other, but enter the front door and all sense of normality is wiped away by the terrible stench and filth.
“We were condemned to this tiny room by the command of the Holy Spirit who had come to my aunt in a vision to deliver the message that we are witches and should be locked up,” Maltji said.
Speaking to the Pretoria News on Tuesday on the stoep of the house that had been his jail, Maltji said their numerous cries for help and pleas to be freed went unheeded.
“They locked us up here two years ago, claiming that all the bad luck the family was experiencing was because of us. My entire family had become reborn Christians and we believed in God completely, that’s why I couldn’t understand their reasoning,” said Maltji.
He added that his aunt had told the family that God had come to her in a vision and said the trio should be locked away.
“She managed to convince the rest of the family – another aunt and uncle – and they locked us in this room. We were allowed only food, which they would bring to us occasionally, and to go to the back toilet.”
According to Maltji, he managed to break out a few times while his captors were away.
“But I couldn’t get over the gate because it was too high and it was always locked. I also couldn’t ask neighbours for help because who would believe me?
“Something like this wouldn’t seem real to them.”
Maltji said that another of his fears was that he would be re-institutionalised at Weskoppies, where he had been treated a few years before for a nervous breakdown because of severe family stress.
The three captives were subjected to extreme verbal abuse, he said.
“They spoke rudely to my grandfather, cursed him and wished him dead..”
Maltji said he’d had to care for his ailing grandfather, who had had a stroke a few years earlier, as well as for his autistic brother, who he said had the mental capacity of a three-year-old and had regular violent outbursts.
Three weeks ago his grandfather fell ill. Their pleading with their captors, the grandfather’s children, to take him to hospital fell on deaf ears. Two weeks ago he awoke to find that his grandfather was dead.
“I screamed and alerted my uncle and told him, but he didn’t care. They said to me that it was a lie, it was magic because we were witches, so my grandfather would come back to life. They wouldn’t believe that he was dead.”
Maltji said as the body started decomposing and giving off a stench, he again asked for assistance from their captors. “I asked them to just let me out to bury him, but they wouldn’t listen.”
The smell had become so unbearable that his brother started biting and attacking the corpse during his violent outbursts.
This is what drove Malatji to escape on Sunday and report his experiences to the Atteridgeville police station. “They didn’t believe me, they probably thought I was crazy. They came with me to the house, but my uncle didn’t open the door so they left.”
Maltji ended up at the Pretoria West police station, who asked officers in Atteridgeville to investigate.
A neighbour, who did not want to be named, said police waited outside the house for several hours as the occupants did not open the door.
She said they had smelled the stench, but didn’t think much of it, believing it was a dead rat.
Malatji said he did not know how he was going to raise the money to bury his grandfather.