While the country and the province are battling other social ills such as poverty, unemployment, load-shedding and deadly diseases such as Covid-19 and HIV/Aids, child abduction and killings are rearing its ugly heads.
According to the police minister, Bheki Cele, who visited Matsulu on Friday October 14, over 10 000 children and women were abducted, raped and killed in just three months countrywide.
He referred to this as a new pandemic.
In this province alone, a number of children went missing and were later found murdered this year alone.
Areas such as KaNyamazane, Matsulu, KaBokweni, Mnganduzweni, Chochocho, Nkomazi and Bushbuckridge are all listed as hot spots. Suspicions have arisen that some of these children were mutilated for muti-related practices. The body parts are allegedly used for rituals.
In May, arrests were made following the tragic killing of Bontle Mashiyane. She had gone missing from the area where she lived, Mganduzweni, on April 30. The devastating discovery of her mutilated body was made close to her home on May 20. Among those arrested was a sangoma (traditional healer). It is suspected that Bontle was killed for muti rituals.
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At the time of the discovery of her body, the Department of Community Safety, Security and Liaison said a sangoma was alleged to have had a hand in the kidnapping and her murder. A video went viral in which a male suspect explained how the children were brutally mutilated for rituals. This man alleged that they were sent by a traditional healer who wanted female body parts to be used for traditional purposes.
This caused an uproar in the community, and the public raised its concerns about the safety of their children. Some started questioning the credibility of some of the traditional healers, stating that the real ones do not hurt others to heal another.
A little boy, Lesedi Chiloane, reportedly went missing in Chochocho Trust near Masoyi on August 28. Lethabo Mokwana and Samkelo Shabangu went missing in September, however, Lethabo was later found dead and Samkelo is still missing.
The provincial police have since urged parents not let their guard down, but to always ensure that they are aware of their children’s whereabouts.
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“The only way we can ensure that children are always kept safe is by monitoring their every move. Parents must make it their duty to know where their children are playing and whether the surroundings are safe and conducive for their kids to play,” advised a provincial police spokesperson, Brigadier Selvy Mohlala.
He urged parents to be more vigilant for their children’s safety.
Rev Micah Nthali, who also serves as the Mpumalanga Moral Regeneration Movement’s chairperson, believes that society has lost its moral compass and drastic measures are needed to help fight the scourge.
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“There are no quick fixes to this challenge. It will take all of us to bring about change,” he said.
He stressed that no one in their right minds can just kidnap a child, rape them and kill them with the intention to sell their body parts.
“To me, a person doing this is no human at all, and doesn’t belong on Mother Earth,” stressed Nthali.