80-year old woman set alight after being accused of witchcraft

An 80-year old woman was recently hacked with a hoe and locked inside her house which was then set alight by a mob that had accused her of being a witch. The incident happened in Mpumalanga in a village called Mbuzini, which is on the border of South African and Mozambique. The old woman burnt to death. Mbuzini is notorious for accusing people of witchcraft and then banishing suspected witches from the village.

Allegations from the community is that the woman was caught sprinkling something in someone’s yard. After being caught, word quickly spread that “a witch” had been caught. Those who allegedly caught her took her back to her house where she was hacked with a hoe. She was then locked her inside her house which was set alight. After her death, the community allegedly said they did not want her buried in the village.

According to police spokesperson Brigadier Leonard Hlathi, while there was no proof of any wrongdoing on the old woman’s side, those who believed she was committing a crime should have called the police instead of taking the law into their hands. Hlathi said police have arrested three women and one man aged between 22 and 44. He said among those arrested are 44-year-old twins whose house the old woman was allegedly caught at.

“The old woman stayed alone. Her husband is dead and her children stay in other parts of Mpumalanga. The suspects were expected to appear at the Tonga Magistrate’s Court. According to a progress report on the case, other suspects are still outstanding on this investigation and arrests are imminent,” he said.

Mpumalanga Police Commissioner Lieutenant General Mondli Zuma said it was disheartening that the elderly community often suffered such accusations from sections of the society. Zuma has warned people to refrain from their actions and directed police to work tirelessly to ensure that those arrested face the full might of the law.

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