12-year-old boy forced to watch as his mother was set alight for ‘witchcraft’

Durban – A teenage boy told the Durban High Court how he tried in vain to douse the flames burning his mother as a crowd chanted that she was a witch.


The boy, now 15, was 12 years old when his mother was forced to drink petrol and set alight. Testifying via audio streaming, the teen said he recognised the men who killed his mother.


The court heard how Thula Dlula, 34 – one of the witnesses – held Thembekile Ngubane, 59, down while Mzuyanda Mntambo, 32 – the only accused in the murder trial – forced her to drink petrol before setting her alight.


Dr Kelly Holloway of Prince Mshiyeni Hospital where Dlula was taken after her death testified that Ngubane would have suffered painfully


“They first assaulted her, then one [held] her hands while the other made her drink something that was in a five-litre plastic container. I don’t remember the colour [of drink] but I think it was red or green,” the boy told Judge Shamila Balton.


A social worker who spoke to Sowetan on condition of anonymity was impressed with the boy’s testimony.


“I thought he was going to be emotional. We thought the tragedy would affect him,” said the social worker.


The boy, who cannot be identified as he is still under-age, said he tried in vain to quell the fire on his mother’s body with water.


He said when they were done setting her alight, the two men, together with the mob, stood a short distance away, singing and shouting that Ngubane must die.


Dlula, however, had told the court during his testimony that although he was at the scene of the incident, he did not know who set Ngubane alight.


The incident was sparked by a community meeting, which resolved that Ngubane should leave the area on the grounds that she was a danger to the community. This after she had allegedly shaved off the eyebrows of Mntambo’s child.


The community viewed this as a sign of witchcraft.


Ngubane was then summoned to a meeting where she allegedly confessed to the act. Residents allegedly assaulted her and accompanied her home where she was ordered to pack and leave the township.


Yesterday, Dr Kelly Holloway of Prince Mshiyeni Hospital, testified that Ngubane suffered painfully.


The trial continues.




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12-year-old boy forced to watch as his mother was set alight for ‘witchcraft’
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