Suspect in Witbank muti killing dies in police custody

22 March 2018 - 10:45 By Naledi Shange
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Handcuffs. File Photo.
Handcuffs. File Photo.

One of the men implicated in the killing of an elderly woman in Clewer near Witbank has died in police cells‚ said Mpumalanga police.

"The remains of a 65-year-old woman were found at Clewer near Witbank. Three men have been arrested in connection [with this]. However one of them collapsed and died while in police custody. An investigation is underway‚" said Brigadier Leonard Hlathi.

Further details on how the suspect died were not immediately available.

The victim‚ believed to be Aletha Maree‚ had been reported missing after her home was burgled on February 25‚ said the SA Crime Community Watch group.

"Many aspects however are leading us to believe that it will most likely be [the remains of Maree] that were found some nine kilometres from where SACCW earlier recovered some personal belongings of the missing person where a large search then took place‚" spokesperson Maureen Scheerpers told TimesLIVE last week.

DNA tests were being conducted to verify the identity of the remains. Maree was believed to have to been killed as part of a muti ritual. Maree is one three people from Witbank who have recently been killed in what is believed are muti-related killings.

"Fourteen-year -old Gabisile Shabane‚ who was living with albinism‚ and her 15-month-old cousin were recently abducted from their parental home at Vosman‚ near Witbank. According to information‚ the villains apparently mistook the light-skinned toddler for another one who is living with the condition and also stays there. Five people have since been arrested and are attending court in Witbank‚" said Hlathi.

Meanwhile‚ in Nelspruit‚ police are investigating a case of grave violation of an albino man. Xolani Mkhize's grave was found dug up with some of the 28-year-old's body parts mutilated. "He had been buried on the previous Saturday‚ March 10‚ at the Tekwane North cemetery‚ just outside Nelspruit‚" said Hlathi.

In a separate case‚ six people‚ including pastors and traditional healers‚ were recently handed life sentences for the kidnapping and murdering of a six-year-old girl at Mgobodzi near Malelane‚ reportedly for her body parts.

Provincial police commissioner Lieutenant General Mondli Zuma expressed concern at the provincial rise of the number of crimes associated with dealing in human body parts.

He called on the police to bring all the culprits to book‚ adding that traditional healers and religious groups should protect the integrity of their practices by blowing the whistle on their unruly counterparts.

“These gruesome acts are a violation of the basic human right to life and are unethical‚ unacceptable and disgusting. Attacking human beings is tantamount to attacking the state and its consequences are dire. We will not hesitate to act against anyone threatening or putting others' lives at peril‚ without fear‚ favour or prejudice‚” said Zuma.

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