Family of 'intruder' wants to perform ritual at house where he was killed

09 October 2019 - 10:20 By Naledi Shange
Lizwi Mbhabhama, who died after allegedly being beaten by a mob in Reyno Ridge, Witbank.
Lizwi Mbhabhama, who died after allegedly being beaten by a mob in Reyno Ridge, Witbank.
Image: Facebook / Mbhabhama Lizwi

The family of a man who was beaten to death in a Witbank homeowner's yard after allegedly being accused of intruding has told TimesLIVE they need to return to the scene to perform a traditional ritual.

Buhle Madandana, the dead man's cousin, said on Wednesday the family hoped the police would help them in arranging a visit to the house before they lay Lizwi Mbhabhama to rest in Tsolo, in the Eastern Cape.

“We don’t have a choice. We have to do the ceremony. We need his spirit. We need to do  this for his soul to rest in peace,” Madandana said.

Usually this ritual involves the burning of incense at the spot where the person died. A branch is placed at the scene. This symbolises the person’s spirit. Mourners speak to the spirit of the deceased, telling him or her that they are taking them to their final resting place. This branch is then taken back to the family home.

Madandana said it had been a trying week since Mbhabhama died, especially since they missed the opportunity to meet the homeowner who allegedly caught and beat Mbhabhama after finding him in his yard.

Madandana rushed to court last week, waiting for the homeowner to appear, but said he was told the accused had already appeared and been released on bail.

“We are not clear about what is happening with the court case. All we know is that he got bail. We aren’t even sure when he is returning to court,” said Madandana.

“It is really painful, because right now we don’t even know whether he was really arrested.”

Capt Eddie Hall said the homeowner had found the man walking at the back of his house where his car was parked.

“The 49-year-old owner caught the suspect in the yard and started assaulting him severely. The owner’s wife phoned nearby neighbours, who also arrived at the house and joined in assaulting the victim,” Hall said. 

“The involvement of the suspect’s wife and other neighbours ... is still being investigated and could lead to more arrests.” 

Mbhabhama's family, however, believed he was seeking help at the house where the incident took place. They said that hours earlier, he had reportedly called his family, saying he was fleeing Phola, near Ogies, as people were after him. He asked the family to send money.

The family believe he hitchhiked from Phola to Witbank, then fled into a suburb near the N12 highway.

They said they did not know who was after Mbhabhama or what kind of trouble he was in.

Maureen Scheepers, operations co-ordinator of the local SA Community Crime Watch group, said they were called just after the assault began.

“When we got there, he was naked. He was still tied up. They had beaten him with a spade, sjambok, sticks and a hose pipe. They kept pouring water on him where his flesh was exposed.”

Recalling his last moments alive, she said: “He looked at me and said, ‘Jy is so mooi’. I was still talking to him when his face turned pale. He then had convulsions and his eyes rolled back and that is how he died,” she said.