Khutsong sangoma beaten then necklaced
BOTHO MOLOSANKWE, BRENDAN ROANE and LERATO MBANGENI
Johannesburg - The murder of a traditional healer in Khutsong after an anti-crime meeting on Sunday appears to have been a gang-related revenge killing.
On Sunday seven people were burnt to death and another was beaten to death as an angry mob went on the rampage.
A pregnant woman who was having a bath rushed naked out of the sangoma’s house followed closely by a barefoot man.
The mob believed the sangoma had helped hide Casanova gang members and had given them muti to help them commit crime.
The woman is the sangoma’s relative and lived in the house while the man was there for a consultation. Scared residents of the Chris Hani settlement said the angry mob was made of residents from other sections of Khutsong as well as members of the Vandals and Creatures gangs.
Declining to give their names as they feared being attacked, the residents said when the mob arrived, they confronted the elderly sangoma, who begged for forgiveness.
His pleas were ignored; he was beaten then necklaced.
As he ran out of the house, his body burning, the mob torched all the shacks in his yard. The sangoma fell in the road and died.
Carletonville police spokesman Captain Jabulani Kundethe confirmed on Monday morning that the traditional healer was arrested last month for the murder of Calvin Mtombela, along with three other alleged gangsters.
Mtombela, also known as Boy Boy, belonged to the Vandals gang while the three men arrested last month were from the Casanova gang, said DA councillor in Khutsong, Vusi Mcunana.
It is believed that the mob then went around the area looking for other Casanova members and burnt them too. They burnt the shacks of suspected gangsters who were not at home.
One man escaped being torched. The man, who owned a hair salon, was brutally beaten to death.
Residents claimed the sangoma was the Casanovas’ traditional healer and was known for giving them “strong” muti.
Last month police arrived at the sangoma’s home looking for suspects connected with a crime committed against a rival gang member. The sangoma refused to open the door so police broke it down and forced their way inside, where they found the suspects. The sangoma was reportedly busy “working on” them at the time.
The suspects were arrested, but released soon after, and tension between rival gangs in the area has been running high ever since.
A resident at the Chris Hani settlement said a meeting addressing crime prevention, to be attended only by men, was called on Sunday morning. It was not known who called it.
Local men and residents from other sections of Khutsong attended. After some time the gathering dispersed and mayhem ensued.
“We did not like what the man and those children (gangsters) used to do, but we are not happy about what happened. It was too brutal. We thought they would just beat them up and not do what they did,” a young woman who did not want to be named said.
The sangoma’s son, who allegedly belonged to the Casanova gang, is said to be in prison for the murder of a man who was robbed and stabbed.
After the meeting in Extension 1, the crowd split into smaller groups and went to confront people they had identified as gangsters.
Mcunana said the sangoma, known only to him as Magagula, was also arrested last month for Mtombela’s murder. It was believed that the murder of the traditional healer was a hit.
“It’s related, it’s revenge,” said Mcunana.
However, Kundethe refused to confirm that the violence was an act of revenge.
Mcunana said there was disquiet in the area on Monday morning. “It’s calm at this moment but we don’t know when the day goes by that this won’t happen again,” he added.
Police spokesman Neville Malila said on Monday morning that he had not received the final report on the violence, which would include the names of the deceased.
He added that several police vehicles were stoned and damaged, but no officers were injured.
“Police vehicles that responded to the calls were stoned and damaged. One community member who was assaulted by the group is in a stable condition in hospital,” Malila said.
No arrests had been made as of Monday morning, and residents were urged not to take the law into their own hands.
“We are urging people to come forward with any information that can lead to the arrest of the perpetrators, as any violent and vigilante acts cannot be condoned,” said acting provincial commissioner Lieutenant-General Lesetja Mothiba.
Additional reporting by Sapa