Divorce proceedings said to have sparked hanging of four KZN children by father
Durban teacher Xolisile Mpungose wept as she clutched KwaZulu-Natal MEC for social development Nonhlanhla Khoza's hand and described the horror that awaited her when she unlocked her front door on Tuesday afternoon.
Speaking from her family home in Copesville, outside Pietermaritzburg, on Wednesday, Mpungose recalled the sight of the lifeless bodies of her three children, Kuhlekonke, Khwezu, and Siphosethu Mpungose - aged between 4 and 10 years old - that will remain forever etched in her memory. They had been hanged.
Her fourth child, Ayakha, 16, was found later on Tuesday night, after she too was hanged from a tree in a bushy area in New Germany.
She told Khoza, who patted Mpungose's hand in sympathy, that she and her husband - who was arrested on Wednesday afternoon in connection with the deaths of the children - had been going through a divorce.
On Wednesday, the country awoke to news of the heinous crime committed by a Wyebank father who allegedly hanged three of his biological children and strangled his stepdaughter to death on Tuesday.
Khoza told the media that the mother and father of the children were in the process of separating.
"They had planned to live separately, the mother and the father - but it was not to go in this fashion. The mother had pledged to give the father some financial support to see that he could live, to give the father whatever - the beds, everything he might need - during the separation," she said.
It is understood that Kuhlekonke, Khwezu, and Siphosethu Mpungose died at their home first before their stepsister, Pinetown Girls' High School grade 11 pupil Ayakha, disappeared after being fetched from school.
Pandemonium erupted on social media, and images of Ayakha were circulated far and wide calling on members of the public to help find the missing grade 11 pupil.
Late that evening, Ayakha's lifeless body was discovered by police in a bush in New Germany.
The African National Congress Women’s League (ANCWL) in the province lauded police for the quick arrest of the father, who was caught hiding in Clermont.
"We are heartbroken and equally upset about this animalic act [sic]. We applaud swift police action and hope that justice will now take its course. We would like to send our deepest condolences to the mother of the children who lost their lives in such a brutal manner.
"We condemn all forms of gender-based violence in the strongest terms possible,” said ANCWL provincial secretary Nonhlanhla Gabela.
The man is expected to appear in court within the next 48 hours.