PARENTS that lost their baby allegedly stolen by a local Sangoma Picture: DOCTOR NGCOBO

Seven men – including a missing child’s father – arrested in connection with the stoning to death of a Welbedacht sangoma have appeared in separate court rooms at the Chatsworth Magistrate’s court.

Philisiwe “Makhosi” Macoba died on December 20 after being stoned as it was believed that she had abducted two-year-old Elethu Nziba.

But the child had in fact already been found and taken to a place of safety by police on the day she went missing, December 18. The seven were arrested on 30 December.

Five of the men who have been charged with attempted murder appeared in one court.

The three charged with murder appeared in another court, including Lucky Howard, 27, who is charged with both attempted murder and murder.

Howard, Mduduzi Mhlangu, 26, Sbusiso Duma, 27, Sihle Mthombeni, 32, and Sthembiso Sikhakhane, 29, appeared on a charge of attempted murder and the matter was postponed for their formal bail application.

Khulile Feni, 34, Howard, and Sbusiso Mateyisa, 27, who is Elethu’s father, appeared in a packed courtroom where the three were supposed to apply for bail.

But instead they applied for legal aid because they had changed their minds about representing themselves.

Speaking to the Daily News, Elethu’s mother, Lindiwe Nziba, expressed her frustration at social services who were keeping her child at a place of safety.

“I feel she will end up unstable because every time we go and see her at the place of safety she cries when we leave; every time I speak to her over the phone, she is crying,” she said.

Nziba said they had been told when they went to see Elethu for the first time after she was found at the place of safety in KwaDabeka on Christmas Eve that the matter was up to the courts to decide.

“Social workers told us that they would conduct their own investigation; they said they would come and interview us at home to see where she is living.

“Then after they would decide if she comes home or not,” she said.

Nziba said she would prefer that they bring her child back home while Social Services continue their investigation.