Durban - After the mob murder of two men, police in eThekwini have embarked on an awareness campaign to dispel hoaxes claiming that children are being abducted for ritual purposes.
Two men were attacked and killed this week by angry Umlazi residents accusing them of this crime.
A traditional healer’s house and his three cars were also torched in KwaDabeka by residents who also accused him of abducting young children. The traditional healer managed to escape.
Police on Friday reiterated their plea to the community to stop spreading rumours.
“We are not aware of any abduction cases,” said police spokesman Colonel Jay Naicker.
Naicker said no arrests had been made in connection with the murders, and that police did not know where the abduction rumours stemmed from.
The rumours, which started several weeks ago, had been spread in the south Durban communities of uMlazi, Folweni, Illovo and KwaMakhutha. There were reports that the hoax was based on the drama unfolding in Nigeria, where more than 200 schoolgirls were abducted by terrorist group Boko Haram in April.
This week, two men fell victim to the rumours when they were killed by an angry mob in Umlazi. Scelo Dladla, 24, of F-Section, was attacked while walking with two men. The group accused the three, including a foreign national, of being part of the kidnapping gang and started attacking them.
The men were taken to Umlazi’s Prince Mshiyeni Hospital, and Dladla and the unnamed foreign national died soon afterwards.
Dladla’s relative, who asked not to be named, said the family had heard the abduction rumours. “Up to this day, we don’t know where those rumours came from and how Scelo was linked to them. He stays at home with his family and has not kidnapped children,” she said.
Dladla’s grandmother, Phumelephi Cele, said she was still trying to come to terms with her grandson’s brutal murder. She said she did not want to speculate on who was responsible or why.
The rumours have caused panic among parents, with some electing not to send their children to school after an apparent social media alert that children were being abducted at schools. A principal from an Umlazi school, who called into a breakfast radio show this week, also dispelled the rumours after it was alleged that some of the children were pupils from her school.
“There is no such thing,” she said on Gagasi FM. “We do the attendance register every morning. All the pupils are accounted for.”
Provincial Education’s Muzi Mahlambi said the rumours had no factual basis and were causing panic at some schools.
An Umlazi resident was, however, adamant yesterday that abductors were terrorising children. She said the group drove a gold Golf and a red Quantum taxi. Police spokesman Captain Thulani Zwane last week urged people to remain calm, saying that police had checked and patrolled these areas, but had found nothing amiss.
Social Development MEC Weziwe Thusi also appealed for calm.
Social networks remained abuzz this week with people discussing the alleged abductions. A picture of a bloodied man who appeared to have been attacked by a mob was posted on Facebook with the caption: “This wicked man takes children here in Umlazi. He gorges their eyes and cuts off their privates parts. #He has been nabbed… don’t mess with Umlazi people!!!!” - Independent on Saturday