Man who cried 'tokoloshe' guilty of murder

Published Nov 27, 2001


An Umlazi "medicine man" who killed a baby because he believed it was a tokoloshe was found guilty on Monday of murder by a Durban High Court judge.

Judge Jan Hugo said Sipho "Ronald" Khumalo's explanation that he did not destroy a human being, but an evil tokoloshe that was masquerading as a baby, must be rejected.

However, the motive for the murder of the child would remain a mystery, Hugo added.

The child's frail body was broken to such an extent that Khumalo clearly intended killing it, Hugo said.

The child's mother had told the court that Khumalo prepared a cocktail of herbs and paraffin and force-fed the child. He then punched and slapped the child repeatedly until it died. A medical report by a doctor was consistent with the mother's evidence.

Hugo said there was nothing abnormal about the child, although Khumalo had claimed that with his magical powers he could detect a tokoloshe - something ordinary people could not do.

The question to be asked was whether Khumalo believed he was inflicting the injuries on a human being. Hugo said that in the opinion of the court, Khumalo was aware that he was attacking a child.

What was puzzling to the court was that after he had identified the child as a tokoloshe, he invited the mother and three of her other children to move in with him for almost three months. Khumalo had told the court that he was immune to the evil powers of the tokoloshe and was therefore not affected.

"He would have the court believe that the tokoloshe is immortal and killing it has no effect on it. Yet, he told police not to refrigerate it because doing so would affect his ability to resurrect the body."

Khumalo, sporting an earring on his right ear, had a string of previous convictions which included murder, robbery and theft of a vehicle.

But after his previous convictions were read out to him, Khumalo denied ever having committed the crimes.

Sentence was adjourned to January 25 next year for the court to first prove that Khumalo had committed the previous offences.

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