- The sister of a KZN family massacre victim has spoken out, saying a family dispute was at the heart of the tragedy.
- She said the sole survivor, a nine-year-old, allegedly said family members were interviewed one by one and then shot.
- Police Minister Bheki Cele said more had to be done and asked for local police to redirect resources.
The sister of a woman killed in a family massacre in KwaZulu-Natal, has alleged that each of the six victims, including two eight-year-olds, were interrogated one by one before they were shot dead over the weekend.
Thokozani Mbatha’s sister Octavia Bhiko Khumalo was one of the six people killed in Nkanini, Eshowe, in northern KwaZulu-Natal.
Mbatha spoke to the media after Police Minister Bheki Cele visited the home to assess the state of the case and to speak to family members.
The family was murdered on Saturday evening, allegedly by social worker Sthembiso Mthimkhulu, who is the nephew of Christopher Khumalo.
Khumalo was the eldest victim and Octavia’s husband.
A nine-year-old survived the ordeal and witnessed some of the killings, Mbatha alleged.
“The child, who is the key witness, said he [the alleged killer] broke the door in with an axe and came to a second door and pushed it.
“He summoned everyone to my brother-in-law and sister’s bedroom. My brother-in-law ran to the bathroom and wanted to hide; he thought maybe they are looking for a man, because the rest of the people in the house were females,” she alleged.
She said Mthimkhulu allegedly used his axe to break down the bathroom door.
Mbatha said he questioned them about the death of Christopher’s son, only identified as Bheki, who died in 2019. Bheki is from another relationship and is not Octavia’s son.
“[He] pulled out my brother-in-law out [of the bathroom] and shot him. He then asked the rest of the family in the main bedroom, one by one, who killed my brother-in-law’s son.”
Mbatha alleged that Mthimkhulu believed Christopher and his wife had something to do with Bheki’s death.
“He interviewed them one by one and shot them if they did not give him answers about Bheki’s death.”
‘More must be done’
Cele said he wanted local police to do more.
“I am not happy with the campaigns the police are undertaking here. They have agreed they will have to jack up their campaigns to go out there, but working with other departments.”
He said that on a national level, they were working closely with Social Development Minister Lindiwe Zulu on family massacre issues.
“We have been seen many times together, we were in Cape Town two weeks ago working on these matters. While there are criminal elements, we need to hand over to facilitate with social issues.
“[For example], that child that [survived] will need a lot of caring going forward. We need to do more, but we need to do those things before such things happen. It is important at all levels. There are areas that police will never be able to go there before those things happen; they need to facilitate and make sure communities are kept together.”
He added that they needed to be more proactive.
“We need to work harder on prevention rather than responses, because by the time you respond, it is too late. Yes, he is arrested, but six people are gone.”
Mthimkhulu was arrested soon after the incident and appeared in court on Wednesday. His case was postponed to next month. He’ll remain in custody until then.