Six people died and nine others were critically hurt whe the bakkie they were traveling in, crashed, while enroute to a funeral.

An elderly woman and her two grandchildren in Ngwavuma, Zululand, were burnt to death by community members who accused the pensioner of being a witch, Social Development MEC Weziwe Thusi confirmed on Tuesday.

Thusi said she had dispatched a social worker to the family of 72-year-old Thokozile Tembe, and Slindile, 11, and Sphesihle Mnguni, three.

The MEC condemned the incident, saying it was a “cold-blooded killing”, possibly motivated by the strange behaviour of the old lady who could have been showing early signs of senile dementia.

“It is a tragedy that we continue to lose our people in this way,” she said.

“As the government, we are doing our best to raise awareness about abuse of the elderly, but, clearly, we have to step up our efforts if our people are still not getting the message.”

Thusi urged communities to learn about conditions that afflicted the elderly, like Alzheimer’s disease and senile dementia.

“Conditions such as dementia leave older people confused and unaware of their surroundings,” she said.

Two weeks ago, an elderly woman was found wandering in the Pietermaritzburg CBD and brought to her office.

“We found that she had come into town with her son but walked off and became lost… Does this mean that she is involved in witchcraft? As a society, we must put an end to this abuse.”

 

The department would provide trauma counselling to the family and neighbours.

 

Police are investigating the murders. - The Mercury