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News - Date: 16 November 2018
Written by: Elmon Tshikhudo / Viewed: 1650
Three elderly people from Khubvi were seriously beaten on suspicion of being ritual murderers.
The three, who are all cattle herders, met the wrath of the angry community after the disappearance of a three-year-old boy in the village. The toddler, Ndiwakhonadzeo Mukhwathi, who was visiting the village with a relative, was last seen by his family while playing with others at a nearby playground last week.
He has not been seen since and the community, the family and the police have been searching for him at the nearby mountains and rivers, but in vain.
With ritual murders rife in the Makonde and Khubvi villages, rumours started doing the rounds about people suspected of having taken part in the killing of the toddler. On Saturday, the community held a meeting at the local hall to discuss the matter.
Headman Sondaha Sikhipha of Vumbani village said he was also invited as a traditional leader. "While at the meeting, I was surprised when I was pointed out as the killer of the child. I did not know anything about the boy's disappearance but was beaten and forced to confess. A tyre was put around my neck and I was threatened with death. Realising that I was not giving the information they wanted, they took me to the nearby local tea plantation where a tyre was once again put around my neck, petrol poured on me and they set alight some grass nearby. They tried to push me into the burning grass, but the police arrived on time and saved me," he said.
Sikhipha further indicated he had suffered severe injuries after being attacked with unknown objects. He added that he was a peace-loving person who had never been involved in a fight. "I know nothing about the disappearance of this boy. I was nearly killed for something that I never did, all because of lies. They took me to a prophet and the prophet indicated that I was not involved, but they are forcing me into admitting to killing the boy. I am very hurt as I speak," said Sikhipha, who is the father of two grown-up children.
Meanwhile, sporadic incidents of road barricading and stone throwing were reported in the village during the week.
Angry residents have allegedly vowed to expel all those they had identified as ritual killers.
Limpopo police spokesperson Col Moatshe Ngoepe confirmed that some protests were taking place in the area. He said the protests were taking place sporadically and cautioned communities from taking the law into their own hands.
He appealed to the affected communities to give the search operation a chance to unfold further and to refrain from engaging in any form of violence. He added that no one had been arrested so far in connection with the attack on the three elderly residents.
"Anyone with information that can assist to locate the missing toddler is urgently asked to contact Sgt Makhavhu on 076 440 4336 or 015 960 1076, the Crime Stop number 0860 010 111, crime line SMS 32211 or to contact the nearest police station," said Ngoepe.
A confused and saddened Sondaha Sikhipha, who was attacked on suspicion of involvement in the alleged ritual murder of a three-year-old child.
Elmon Tshikhudo started off as a photographer. He developed an interest in writing and started submitting articles to local as well as national publications. He became part of the Limpopo Mirror family in 2005 and has since been a familiar name among the newspaper's readers.