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KwaZulu-Natal - A young boy, grazed on the chin by a bullet in a rain of machine-gun fire that killed his father and more than half his family, cries in his sleep.
The boy’s aunt, Thembeka Mkhize, says four-year-old Phelelani screams for his father, Mngeni Mkhize, 45, and cannot be consoled.
“How do we comfort this child when his father and his uncles were taken from him in such a violent way? Our whole family has been torn apart,” Thembeka said.
Phelelani and his two brothers, three-year-old Fika and 17-year-old Bongani, were wounded in the horror attack on their homestead in the Thsekani area of Muden, 20km from central Greytown, early on Saturday.
Phelelani was discharged from hospital on Sunday, while his brothers remained in a serious condition.
The family was visited on Sunday by MEC for Community Safety and Liaison Willies Mchunu, who expressed his condolences and offered his support.
“The ruthless criminals responsible for this horror attack must be brought to justice. It is a miracle that the children survived, but now they must live with this tragedy haunting them for the rest of their lives,” Mchunu said.
Mngeni Mkhize, his four brothers – Simphiwe Mkhize, 32, Mhlengi Mkhize, 38, Lungisani Mkhize, 17, and Sibusiso Mkhize, 17 – and their nephew Sizwe Zondi, 18, were shot dead as they slept in their huts.
Police spokesman Colonel Vincent Mdunge said on Sunday that police were in hot pursuit of the attackers, and that arrests were imminent.
According to Mdunge, the family was asleep in separate rondavels at about 3am on Saturday when five men armed with AK-47s and handguns opened fire on them.
“These men systematically targeted each room in the settlement and shot the men,” Mdunge said.
The gang did not take any belongings from the family.
The motive for the murders is still unknown, but there is some speculation among the Greytown community that the Mkhize brothers were suspected of stock theft and that is why they were targeted.
Mdunge said he could not confirm this. “The provincial commissioner has assembled a task team to hunt down the five suspects,” Mdunge said.
In a statement issued on Sunday, the provincial ANC appealed to the community to assist the police in tracking down the murderers.
Spokesman Senzo Mkhize said the ruling party was concerned about the violent attacks in uMsinga and its surrounding areas.
“We commend the provincial Community Safety and Liaison MEC, Willies Mchunu, and the provincial SAPS commissioner, Lieutenant General Mmamonnye Ngobeni, for setting up a special task team to investigate the attack,” Mkhize said.
“We strongly believe that the police should conduct raids in uMsinga and the surrounding areas as it is clear that there are arms caches hidden to fan these violent attacks.”
Police should raid and confiscate firearms that fan ongoing violence in uMsinga and surrounding areas, the ANC said on Sunday in reaction to the attack.
“The ANC has noted with concern that in most attacks in these areas, high calibre firearms such as AK47s are used,” the ANC in KwaZulu-Natal said in a statement.
“We strongly believe that these areas have dangerous weapons that have to be confiscated by the police.”
The ANC branch treasurer in uMsinga was killed earlier in his home by a group of unidentified people, the party said.
“It is worth noting that the alleged gunman in the murder of the ANC North West regional secretary, Obuti Chika, recently led the police to uMsinga, where the suspected murder weapon was found.”