Cape Town. 091210. Sangoma Jean Eagle Little Stone reads his cards on his prediction for the year ahead. Picture Leon Lestrade. Story Thanda Mhlanga.

Durban - Leaders needed to intervene and speak out against “witchcraft” killings in their communities, says Mary de Haas, a KwaZulu Natal violence monitor and sociologist.

De Haas was reacting to the killing of Mnikezwa Mthembu, 82, who was bludgeoned and hacked to death on Sunday night, allegedly by a neighbour who claimed to have been bewitched by the elderly man.

Provincial police spokesman Captain Thulani Zwane confirmed that a 28-year-old man had been arrested in connection with the crime.

It is alleged that Mthembu had been asleep in his room when the suspect knocked on his door and dragged him out of the house to a spot nearby where he was killed.

Mthembu’s grandchildren heard his cries for help, but by the time they got to the scene, he was unable to speak and died shortly after being carried back to his home.

De Haas said what was even more disturbing was that those suspected of practising witchcraft were almost invariably murdered in a brutal fashion.

She said she had dealt with many attacks on people accused of witchcraft and found that most of the killings had been as a result of a rumour spread by an individual who had an axe to grind with the victim.

“Community leaders need to speak to their communities,” she said.

Mthembu’s son, Meyi, said they were in shock on Tuesday

“My father was no wizard; just an innocent old man who lived his life in peace. It hurts that he felt so much pain. At his age we expected him to die a peaceful death, not like this.” - Daily News