REMEMBER THEIR NAMES – Victims of witch-hunts in South Africa 2000 to 2024

The following represents available published news reports of witch-hunts in South Africa for the periods 2000 to 2024.

* Reports covering the period 2006 to 2009 have not been included here. This content is regularly updated.

Many more witchcraft accusations and witch-hunts remain unreported. Refugees of witchcraft accusation receive little or no media coverage in South Africa.





An 85-year-old woman and her 90-year-old husband lost their lives on 12 February 2024, after their home became the alleged target of an arson attack. “The exact cause of the fire is still to be confirmed, and we are following up on all information. We are aware of the allegations of witchcraft, and this motive is still to be confirmed.” Captain Sipho Nkosi, spokesperson for the Osizweni South African Police Service (SAPS)  Source



74-year-old Solani Mchunu, from Bandlaneni area in KwaNongoma Local Municipality, was brutally murdered by a 29-year-old man who accused her of witchcraft. Source

An unnamed boy who allegedly killed an unnamed 74-year-old man he accused of witchcraft, was stoned to death in the Bandlaneni area, Ward 14, KwaNongoma Local Municipality in Northern KZN. Source


5 April 2021
Soweto, Johannesburg

Jostina Sangweni (59) was brutally beaten and burned alive after being accused of witchcraft. She succumbed to her injuries and died in hospital. Source


March 2020
Eastern Cape

An 83-year-old woman was assaulted, drowned to death in a water drum and her body was torched in her rondavel in the Majuba Village, outside Sterkspruit in the Eastern Cape. Police spokesperson Brigadier Tembinkosi Kinana said the mob suspected the woman of being responsible for the death of a young man in the area who was buried on Saturday. On Sunday, a group of men then allegedly assaulted her, held her head in a drum of water until she died and torched her rondavel. Her 23-year-old grandchild escaped when the paraffin they poured on the grandchild’s body failed to ignite. The grandchild is under police supervision. A man has been arrested for the attack, and will appear at a local court soon. Kinana said the man would appear in the Sterkspruit Regional Court on charges of assault with the intent to cause grievous bodily harm, arson, murder and attempted murder. Eastern Cape police commissioner Lieutenant General Liziwe Ntshinga has deployed a team of detectives to the area to find the perpetrators. Source


31 December 2019

A mother and her two sons were arrested for the murder of 66-year-old Samson Hlungwani after one of the sons complained that his father had bewitched his marriage. Source

2 August 2019

An unnamed elderly woman was stabbed to death with a screwdriver in front of her grandchildren after being accused of being a witch. An unnamed 34 year old man is in custody. Source

22 June 2019

Ntombizodwa Toto-Madikizela (78) was axed to death in front of her grandchildren last month and on Tuesday this week her family, including 13 children, fled the village after their homestead was torched. According to Inkosi Nobomi Madikizela, the grandmother was one of 30 people killed in witchcraft-related incidents in the village since 2016. “The victims include 16 women who were all accused of witchcraft and hacked to death, some in front of their children.” Source


23 December 2018

A 75-year-old woman, Noxhamla Landa, was burnt to death in the village of Emaxesibeni in the Eastern Cape. She was attacked after being accused of being a witch, by community members, who set her alight. Source

12 December 2018

2 Eastern Cape sisters, Nothethisa Ntshamba and Ntombi Ndlanya, aged 53 and 33, burnt to death in Ngonyameni village, Emaxesibeni, after being accused of witchcraft. Alfred Nzo District Municipality Mayor Sixolile Mehlomakhulu called the attack “inhuman” and urged police to increase their visibility and arrest the perpetrators so they can “face full might of the law”. Source

August 2018

Silulami Madikane, Jongile Gcelu, Phindile Mabija, Sinekhaya Qoyi, Lwandile Seku, Mandisi Kwaza, Lwazi Gcelu, Sihle Nogemane, Sakhumzi Hafe, Luyanda Mbatha, Khuliso Gcelu, Sizabantu Hafe, Abulele Kwaza, Sisa Madikane and Babini Gudu were sentenced to life behind bars for the 2015 murder of Dudu Gcelu, 65 and his wife Nocingile, 60, whom they had accused of witchcraft. SOURCE

January 2018

Limpopo – Five more people were arrested on Tuesday night bringing to nine the number of people arrested so far for allegedly setting alight four houses of people accused of poisoning a young woman who died in Ntsoaneng village outside Burgersfort in Limpopo in December 2017. Police said tension had been brewing in the area where some villagers had been accused of practicing witchcraft. Community members torched four houses of people they accused of practicing witchcraft in the village. The three houses that were burned belong to the Maepa‚ Mampuru and Mojele families. SOURCE

Limpopo – A 62 year old Josia Mukwevho has allegedly stabbed his neighbour with a sharp instrument after accusing her of practicing Witchcraft. The South African Police Service condemns acts of mob attacks and killings which are still taking place in some Clusters throughout this Province with the strongest terms. The Provincial Commissioner LT. General Nneke Ledwaba has warned all those members of the community who are still perpetrating this type of incidents to refrain and stop this tendency abruptly, not so, they will be dealt with mercilessly as they are busy interfering with the spirit of community Policing in this Province. SOURCE 


December 2017

Limpopo – Isando Rivimbi, 32, was convicted of murder and defeating the ends of justice, for which an additional three years was added to his sentence. He murdered his 82-year-old aunt because he suspected that she bewitched his father. He was sentenced to life imprisonment in the High Court in Thohoyandou on Thursday. SOURCE

February 2017

Mpumalanga – “A video clip and photographs of a naked woman being taunted and called a witch is being circulated on social media. The (un-named) woman is recovering in hospital after she was brutally assaulted by a group accusing her of witchcraft. Her house in KaMaqhekeza, Nkomazi, in Mpumalanga was also burned down.” SOURCE


October 2015

Pietermaritzburg – Two Scottburgh district brothers butchered eight of their relatives – including three toddlers – because they believed their family members used witchcraft. SOURCE

July 2015

Durban – Twelve people have been arrested after a KwaMashu man, Jabulani Nkunzikayibekwa Nxumalo (38) was beaten and burnt alive by a mob who had accused him of witchcraft. SOURCE

May 2015

Seventeen people, including four children, were arrested in Nancefield, Musina, after a pastor’s house was burnt down after claims of witchcraft, Limpopo police said on Friday. SOURCE

April 2015

Police watched helplessly as angry residents tortured a naked woman accused of being a witch in a village in Mpumalanga. SOURCE

March 2015

Mgwazeni Delwa, 73, was at his home when three people threw stones at him and beat him with knobkerries and sticks in the early hours of Monday morning. It’s alleged that the suspects accused the deceased of performing witchcraft. SOURCE

February 2015

Thembekile Ngubane, 59, accused of witchcraft, was held down and forced to drink petrol before being set alight. Ngubane died in hospital a month later from her burns. SOURCE


November 15 2014

Residents of Nkambako village near Tzaneen accused Irene Mashele (61) and her two sons Sydwell (40) and Jabu Mashele, all sangomas, of causing all the deaths in the village by burying charms in every street. Angry villagers set the four Mashele houses on fire at midday on Saturday. Mashele and her sons were badly beaten. SOURCE

November 12 2014

Daniel Modipi was found guilty and sentenced to three life terms in the Polokwane High Court for murdering his grandmother Sinah Modipi (81) and two aunts Lydia (60) and Christine Modipi (71), after accusing the three of witchcraft after the apparent suicide by hanging of his younger brother. SOURCE

August 23 2014

National Police Commissioner, General Riah Phiyega, will lead a crime awareness campaign on witchcraft and mob justice in Giyani at the unveiling of a tombstone of 52-year old, Catherina Nkovani-Chauke , who was stoned and set alight after being accused of witchcraft on April 27. SOURCE

July 28 2014

“Eastern Cape police are searching for a group of 10 people who allegedly killed three family members and burnt their homestead in Lugwijini Location, Mzamba. Ayanda Nomaqhiza, 29, was allegedly stabbed to death by the group at a tavern in the area on Saturday night.”The father, 72-year-old Julius Nomaqhiza, came to the rescue of his son and was also assaulted and stabbed”. Both men were confirmed dead at the scene. The group then went to the men’s homestead and set it alight before killing the mother, Patience Nombeko Nomaqhiza, 65. The motive for the murders was believed to be linked to witchcraft. SOURCE

July 21 2014

A trial against a man accused of calling an elderly woman a witch will resume in Mpumalanga on Monday. Mzikayifani Mnisi, 45, of the Bhaca section of Mbuzini near the Swaziland and Mozambican border, pleaded not guilty to charges of contravening the Suppression of Witchcraft Act when he appeared in the Tonga Magistrate’s Court on 7 July. The victim, Elizabeth Mahlalela, 65, testified tearfully that she and her husband came across Mnisi and another man who blocked their way. “They told my husband they don’t have a problem with him, only me, as I had bewitched [Mnisi’s] wife so that she would die,” she said. SOURCE

April 27 2014

52-year old Catherina Nkovani-Chauke was stoned and set alight after being accused of witchcraft. SOURCE

April 21 2014

A 29-year-old grandson accused his grandmother, Miluva Chauke, of bewitching his mother and killed her with an axe. SOURCE

April 18 2014

A monkey was pelted with stones, shot at and burned to death in a South African township on 18 April because residents believed it was linked to witchcraft, an animal welfare agency has said. A mob chanted “Kill that witch!” as the vervet monkey was put in a bucket, doused with petrol and set on fire, according to witnesses. Children who witnessed the killing last week were said to be traumatised. SOURCE

April 07 2014

Sports Minister Fikile Mbalula and ANC provincial secretary Songezo Mjongile make accusations of “witchcraft” against the Democratic Alliance  at the Lusaka Community Hall in Nyanga on 7 April. SOURCE

February 2014

A Limpopo pensioner, 61-year-old Mamayila Nkuna was accused of witchcraft after a man was found dead in her village. She was burnt to death by community members who accused her of witchcraft. SOURCE


November 2013

An unnamed grandmother in her 60’s was accused of causing a road accident through witchcraft and her house was burnt down in Waterval, Mpumalanga. SOURCEAugust 2013Alice Dlamini and her daughter Nkhesikhona Xulu were murdered on accusation of witchcraft. Thulani Xulu (25) hit the women’s heads with a hammer. His brother Bongani Xulu (28) used a bolted stick on them and Zakhele Nkosi (26) speared them. The three men were found guilty of murder and jailed for 20 years. SOURCE

July 12 2013

Mgagane Ngcobo (62) accused of witchcraft after a girl from his neighbourhood had become ill, had to flee his home after he was assaulted and his house burned down in Ndwedwe, Durban. SOURCE

June 2013

Daniel Modipi murdered his grandmother Sinah Modipi (81) and two aunts Lydia (60) and Christine Modipi (71), after accusing the three of witchcraft after the apparent suicide by hanging of his younger brother. SOURCE

May 08 2013

Nozolile Nohiya (82), and Nomvula (84) are among women at Gotyibeni village in Mqanduli (Eastern Cape) who live in fear after a woman, Nocupheni Ngoyana (47) was accused of witchcraft and murdered after two gunmen stormed into the rondavel in which she was sleeping and shot her at point blank range. SOURCE


June 19 2012

An elderly woman Thokozile Tembe (72) and her two grandchildren Slindile Mnguni (11) and Sphesihle Mnguni(3) in Ngwavuma, Zululand, were burnt to death by community members who accused the pensioner of being a witch, Social Development MEC Weziwe Thusi confirmed on Tuesday … “As the government, we are doing our best to raise awareness about abuse of the elderly, but, clearly, we have to step up our efforts if our people are still not getting the message.” SOURCE

April 12 2012

Tarazeta Mathebula (79), accused of witchcraft, and his unnamed sister-in-law (55) torched inside their home in Giyani, Limpopo, and burn to death. SOURCE

March 22 2012

Gauteng – Residents of Evaton have accused the pastor of The Rivers of Living Water church of bewitching children and allege that some were “turning into snakes.” The area has been the scene of violence since Tuesday and residents have threatened to burn the church down. SOURCE

February 07 2012

Limpopo – Police in Mecklenburg arrested a 55 year old man for setting alight the house of an unnamed 70 year old woman after he suspected that she had killed his son through witchcraft. The pensioner was attending a church service when her house was burned down. Provincial police commissioner Lieutenant-General Simon Mpembe has strongly condemned the burning of the woman’s house and said pointing out someone as a witch was a serious offence. SOURCE

February 02 2012

KwaZulu-Natal – Premier Zweli Mkhize condemned the killing of people suspected of practising witchcraft. “We call on our people never to use suspicion of witchcraft as an excuse to commit murder.” SOURCE

January 2012

KwaZulu-Natal – Masisi Mhlongo (50), Fanelesibonge Ntuli(6) and Amahle Nxumalo (5 years old), were burnt to death inside their home in Maphumulo, near Stanger, after Masis Mhlongo was accused of being a witch.January 2012KwaZulu-Natal – Elsa Dubazane (62) was burnt to death in her home in Lindelani. Her husband Rafael Zikhulu, who managed to escape the burning shack, was “necklaced” a few metres away. The couple had been accused by residents of witchcraft. Eleven suspects have been arrested. SOURCE

January 27 2012

Limpopo – The community of Roadhouse in Malamulele booed Civic Association chairman Thomas Bila after he refused to expel an unnamed Mozambican woman they accused of witchcraft from the area. “If the civic is not telling us that the witches are going, they must go,” a villager said. The witchcraft accusations follows claims that a woman took some soil from a graveyard on the day a woman who was her neighbour was buried. Police spokesman Warrant Officer Alson Mapindani confirmed the situation at Roadhouse and said police were monitoring it. SOURCE


December 07 2011

Kwazulu-Natal – Grace Hadebe (57) was burnt to death in Gomora informal settlement in Edendale, allegedly for practising witchcraft. Her two grandchildren, aged four and six, escaped through a window. SOURCE

September 07 2011

Eastern Cape – The Eastern Cape’s Social Development department report released this week has found that the elderly are often accused of witchcraft. Social Development spokesman Gcobani Maswana told the Daily Dispatch “We have five cases of elderly women who have been hacked to death in the past three months alone, because some community members believe they are witches.” “Our greatest concern is that the stigma [of witchcraft] also affects grandchildren, who are also accused of being used by their grandmothers,” said Maswana. He said in one of the Lusikisiki cases, a 72-year-old granny was attacked and killed along with her two grandchildren, both girls, aged 10 and 11. The research found that in many instances, women accused of witchcraft were “people suffering from dementia and other illnesses”. SOURCE

August 12 2011

Eastern Cape – The murder of an unnamed 65 year old woman, her son (24) and daughter (20), accused of witchcraft, was condemned by the chairperson of the women’s caucus of the Eastern Cape legislature, Koliswa Fihlani. Fihlani said she believed the murder of the Mayihlome family was “symptomatic of cultural stereotypes against poor and vulnerable women”. Two children aged between 2 and 4 survived the attack. SOURCE

July 26 2011

Eastern Cape – A 72 year old woman accused of witchcraft was stabbed to death in her home near Mthatha. The woman was asleep with her granddaughter at home in Ncihane village. The granddaughter was not injured. The suspect aged 52 was charged with murder in the Elliotdale Magistrate’s Court. SOURCE

July 05 2011

Eastern Cape – Two people were killed and four others were injured when a mob swooped on two homes in Slovo Park where they believed witchcraft was being practised. A 67-year-old woman sustained severe burns and died when the group set her flat alight in the first incident. Her grandson (16) was stabbed but survived the attack. In a second incident, the elderly victim’s 35 year old son was hacked to death. Another son and daughter, aged 25 and 30, were in hospital. One had sustained stab wounds and the other burns. Five grandchildren escaped unhurt. SOURCE

March 28 2011

Kwazulu-Natal – Two 25 year old men appear in the Ntuzuma Magistrate’s Court accused of murdering their unnamed 54 year old neighbour because they thought she was a witch. Her daughter witnessed the killing and alerted the police. SOURCE

March 23 2011

Limpopo – Police warn that “recently empowered rural people are increasingly being accused of witchcraft by jealous neighbours, sometimes with grave consequences”. SOURCE

March 22 2011

Limpopo – Cynthia Lemaho (26) and her grandmotherMupala Motopela (81) were stoned and then set alight by a mob in Maake village outside Tzaneen after being accused of witchcraft. Lemaho’s two-year-old toddler and 12-year-old child managed to escape unharmed. SOURCE

March 14 2011

Limpopo – The Tzaneen municipality is trying to locate two families who fled from their temporary shelter after being accused of practising witchcraft. SOURCE

March 03 2011

Limpopo – 13 people, aged between 19 and 50 years, were arrested on charges of public violence after a group of angry villagers set alight seven houses belonging to people accused of practising witchcraft. This followed allegations that a 13-year-old girl was caught naked casting a spell over a neighbour’s house just after midnight. The girl was allegedly arrested and forced to appear before the village’s kangaroo court where she was grilled by the villagers. The girl allegedly implicated some elderly people in the village, who she claimed had sent her to cast an evil spell at the house. She allegedly revealed the names of those with whom she had allegedly practised witchcraft at night. A woman, whose name cannot be released and whose house was also set alight, pleaded with the police outside the court for protection. The woman said her life and the lives of members of her family could be in danger if the suspects were granted bail. She and her family, including those of the other victims of the attacks, have been accommodated in an empty building belonging to the Maruleng municipality, while others were given tents as temporary shelter. “We are asking for the police to safeguard our tents 24/7 until investigations are completed and the court makes a decision,” she said. The 13 arson suspects were granted R500 bail each and their case would be heard again on March 30. SOURCE

February 01 2011

Mpumalanga – An unnamed woman (aged 62) was dragged from her home and beaten but escaped being burned to death when her home was set alight by a mob. Twelve people were arrested. SOURCE


December 27 2010

Limpopo ‐ Matome Albert Shai (64) was accused of practising witchcraft and stoned to death.December 2010KwaZulu-Natal ‐ Coshele Mabhida (45), Angelina Mabhida(58), Sindi Mabhida (25), Njabulo Mabhida (9), Siphesihle Mabhida (7), Olwami Mabhida (6), and Andiswa Mabhida(9 months old), and relative Nelisiwe Khumalo (16), were burnt to death. They were accused of witchcraft. December 2010Kwazulu-Natal ‐ Tholakele Shoba (54), a trainee traditional healer and her husband Shezi Shoba (60), were killed in Snathing near Edendale after they were accused by another traditional healer of having abducted a 7 year old boy to use for witchcraft.October 29 2010Kwazulu-Natal – The murder of four people in Mariannhill, Durban, has brought to 12 the number of people killed in KwaZulu-Natal in the past three days, and prompted national police commissioner Bheki Cele to visit the province. At Hlabisa, in northern KZN, a 52 year old woman Thoko Sibiya and her granddaughter were killed. A long running dispute over suspected witchcraft is thought to be the motive. SOURCE

October 2010

Eastern Cape – A 20 year old man murdered his unnamed parents, aged 75 and 80, and wounded two others, a 38 year old sister and a 60 year old woman, identified as the family’s neighbor with a spear in Mooiplaas over accusations of witchcraft. Names of the victims were not released by the media.September 2010Eastern Cape ‐ An unidentified 54 year old woman and her 3 year old granddaughter were wounded by gunmen seeking revenge for a killing they believe was caused by witchcraft. They shot the woman twice, in the shoulder and leg and the teenager once in the leg.August 22 2010Eastern Cape ‐ Masilengenge Bambusiba (85), her grandsonsLwazi (17), Lwando (10), and Vela Nogemane (9), and granddaughter Ezile Nogemane (aged 5), were found dead at their home in Sigubudu village in Ngqeleni. Ten men attacked the family believing the woman was going to bewitch youths in the village.August 04 2010Mpumalanga – Philip Mnisi, Phumula Secondary School principal was accused of witchcraft by a mob, including pupils, after criticising his community for torching two houses during a witch-hunt. “He condemned us for burning the houses, and now children at the school are complaining that they see animals,” said Themba Maseko, on behalf of the protesters. He said the animals were the principal’s familiars and were used for black magic. SOURCE

June 02 2010

Kwazulu-Natal – A 31 year old trainee sangoma, Mthunzi Ngcobo, shot his stepmother Vonto Ngcobo, whom he accused of practising witchcraft. Some villagers are now allegedly demanding that women suspected of witchcraft be eliminated. Mthunzi Ngcobo later shot himself in front of his brother. It is alleged that he claimed to have visions of his stepmother (Vonto) colluding with women who practised witchcraft. SOURCE

May 30 2010

Eastern Cape – An unnamed 70 year old Eastern Cape woman was shot and killed. Police suspect the victim was accused of witchcraft. SOURCE

March 03 2010

Limpopo – The Mafogo family of nine in Sekororo, outside Tzaneen, is now homeless after angry community members burnt down their house after accusing them of practicing witchcraft. Malesela Letsoalo of Makgaung village in the same area says the community went on the rampage after a man from the Mafogo family was allegedly found naked in a neighbour’s house just after midnight. The Mafogo family has rejected the allegations. “There are no witches in my family. We don’t know the first thing about witchcraft or using a broom or bread to fly. These are the deeds of jealousy because of our success,” said a relative, who asked to remain anonymous. SOURCE 

March 02 2010

Western Cape ‐ Yalezwa Phulwana (22), and her 2 year old daughter Liyema died in hospital from burns after their home was set alight. Yalezwa’s mother, Nonjengezinye Matwa, was also severely burned and had to be hospitalised. She was accused of being a witch by a traditional healer.March 01 2010Limpopo ‐ An elderly Limpopo woman (not named) accused of witchcraft had her house burnt down in Magaung village at Sekororo, Maake.February 2010Kwazulu-Natal ‐ Mbongeni Zungu (68) died after community members attacked him and burnt down his shack in Umlazi E section. They accused him of practising witchcraft.February 04 2010Eastern Cape – Three men, aged between 21 and 28, were arrested for beating a 60 year old woman to death they accused of practising witchcraft. Her husband escaped. The same suspects later went back to the same homestead and set alight two rondavels. The 11 occupants survived with minor injuries. In a separate incident, three men accused of stabbing to death 65 year old Nokitani Tshemesi and her three granddaughters, appeared in the Elliotdale Magistrate’s Court. They had suspected the woman of practising witchcraft. SOURCE

February 03 2010

Eastern Cape ‐ Nokitani Tshemesi (65) and her three grandchildren, Phumeza Ntakani (13), Nonkoliseko Malolo and Akhona Malolo (both aged 10), were found stabbed to death in their home in Kwaaiman, Eastern Cape. They were accused of witchcraft.January 15 2010Kwazulu-Natal – Eric Mthembu (22) told the Pietermaritzburg High Court that he killed a woman who claimed she used witchcraft to kill his mother, in order to make his mother a tokoloshe. The man was jailed for 18 years by Judge Anton van Zyl who said that Mthembu seemed to have a genuine, but misplaced, belief that the professed witch, Catherine Gina, had killed people by using supernatural powers. SOURCE

January 13 2010

Kwazulu-Natal ‐ Badabukile Ndlovu (81) was stabbed 50 times and her throat slit by her neighbour who accused her of witchcraft in KwaKwiliza near Mtubatuba.January 04 2010Eastern Cape ‐ Mamakazi Mkhwanazi and her granddaughter Thobile Mbatha were burnt beyond recognition in Gunjaneni after being accused of practising witchcraft.

 * Reports covering the period 2006 to 2009 will be included.


February 2005

90 teenagers in Polokwane (Limpopo Province) appeared in the Giyani Magistrate’s court after they torched 39 houses in four villages in an area north-east of Polokwane. Police reported that the vigilante crowd told the occupants of the houses “you are a witch!” before setting their homes on fire. When some of the youths opened fire on the police who were trying to stop them police returned fire, killing Solly Mathebula (20). SOURCE 

March 2005

A 15 year old Limpopo girl from Timbavati village tried to drink paraffin three times after being expelled from Timbavati Primary School because teachers and pupils believed she was a Witch. “The girl was accused of writing a letter, placing it on the teacher’s desk, and telling her friends that the teacher would die if she opened it.” When confronted, the girl allegedly confessed to practising Witchcraft. The girls grandfather sent her to Masingitana High School the following year but teachers there also allegedly “refused to touch her books”. SOURCE

March 2005

An Mpumalanga family burnt and buried a doll they were told was placed at their front door to bewitch them. They were assisted by a local prophet, Knowledge Makhubela, who performed a cleansing ceremony for the family. A family member named by reporters as Shadow Tshabalala allegedly said in an interview, “Though we all know that witchcraft exists, the Constitution doesn’t recognise it, so we have to let this incident slide”. SOURCE

April 2005

Villagers of Giyani in Limpopo Province accused a rooster and hen of being Witch’s familiars. The rooster and hen were allegedly smeared with ochre. One resident, Josiah Rikhotso, suggested the rooster and hen be killed to identify the Witch. He said, “Every black person knows that if an animal used for witchcraft is killed, then the owner of that animal dies magically”. Giyani police confiscated the chickens. Captain Maano Sadike of Mopani police is reported to have said, “We’re afraid these chickens may spark a witch hunt in an already volatile area”. SOURCE

August 2005

Micas Khoza (65) was attacked with a panga and locked inside a burning house in Bushbuckridge (Mpumalanga) by his two grandchildren aged between 12 and 16 after they accused him of being a Witch. SOURCE

September 2005

Pietermaritzburg police in the KwaZulu-Natal midlands offered a reward of up to R25 000 for information which could lead to the arrest and conviction of those responsible for the death of two middle-aged sisters, Madudu Shandu (57) and Bongekile Zungu (59) who had been accused of being Witches. SOURCE

September 2005

A Howick magistrate’s court in Kwazulu-Natal granted bail of R10 000 to a man believed to have been involved in the death of Bheki Sibiya, a traditional healer in the Mpophomeni area in the KwaZulu-Natal midlands. Sibiya was attacked by members of his community who accused him of practising Witchcraft. He was stoned to death. SOURCE

October 2005

A Pretoria man named William Nkuna accused the family of his alleged victim, Frances Rasuge, of trying to bewitch him. He stated, “I found out the Rasuge family had gone to a witch doctor in order to bewitch me because they blamed me for her disappearance”. In Nkuna’s trial for the alleged murder of Frances Rasuge he told the Mmabatho Circuit Court sitting in Ga-Rankuwa that Rasuge had been forced by a police Captain named Simon Letseka to hire a hitman to kill him. SOURCE

October 2005

22 people were arrested in NwaXinyama village near Makhado (Limpopo Province) and charged with public violence after attempting to stone a grieving father at his daughter’s funeral. Superintendent Ailwei Mushavhanamadi of the Vhembe police in Limpopo clarified that his daughter had died in a motor car accident but the mob had accused her father of using Witchcraft to cause her death. Mushavhanamadi said, “her father had also believed someone had cast a spell on her, and was conducting a spell of his own to bewitch whoever had caused her death”. The man’s identity was withheld by the police. SOURCE

October 2005

Journalist Chris Makhaye reported in The Sunday Independent of October 2, 2005, “Hidden in the dry, rocky flatlands of Limpopo Province lies a small village called Helena. With its dusty roads and cattle pens it looks like any other village in the region. But it has an air of mystique. Neighbouring villagers call it Tulo Yabaloyi – Place of Witches. Some say Helena is populated by sorcerers who are capable of sending deadly thunderstorms to wreak havoc on an enemy’s home, or of using muti to bring about misfortune on their rivals. But its residents call it a sanctuary for those who have been falsely accused of witchcraft. There are 42 households lining Helena’s dusty road. They come from different parts of Limpopo Province and were forced by circumstances to settle there. Each family has a tale to tell about how they were uprooted from their daily lives because they were accused of witchcraft.” SOURCE : ‘Banished to Helena’ by Chris Makhaye published in The Sunday Independent.

November 2005

Police in Tzaneen (Limpopo Province) arrested 17 people after a mob attacked a 73 year old woman at Sasekani village, accusing her of Witchcraft. Mopani police spokesperson Superintendent Moatshe Ngoepe said, “It is very disturbing that even though we are more than 10 years into democracy, people continue to call each other witches and take the law into their own hands”. Suspects were charged with public violence, attempted murder, defeating the ends of justice, malicious damage to property and contravening the Suppression of Witchcraft Act. SOURCE

December 2005

Two men who admitted they killed Alice Mamtshulu Mntungwa because they thought she was a Witch received 15-year sentences in Pietermaritzburg (Kwazulu-Natal). The article reported, “Judge Vuka Tshabalala said that because Siphele Jobe Sithole and his friend Thokoza Mvelase (both 20) are from a rural background and genuinely believed the elderly woman was a witch, they deserve a lesser sentence of 15 years’ imprisonment, instead of life”. SOURCE

December 2005

Neville Maakana reported that a 14 year old schoolgirl had told her community that she had been abducted by Witches at night and forced to drink human blood. She accused a 73 year old woman in Sasekani village near Tzaneen (Limpopo) of being one of the Witches, claiming to have seen zombies at her house. The old woman was ordered to leave the village but she refused, challenging community leaders to hire a sangoma to conduct a proper Witch hunt. On October 31 villagers attacked the woman. Seventeen people were arrested in connection with the incident. SOURCE

: ‘Teen ‘forced to drink blood” by Neville Maakana African Eye News Service – 6 December 2005,,2-7-1442_1846228,00.html 21() 2005Senzo Mkhize and Sphiwe Mkhize killed 71-year-old Velephi Dlamini at Maphumulo, Kwazulu-Natal after accusing him of being involved in witchcraft. SOURCE


February 2004

In ‘Witchcraft made donkey do it’ an Mpumalanga inyanga (traditional herbalist) claimed Witchcraft made a donkey maul Ditgetho Motjieng’s face. Bushbuckridge inyanga, Daniel Ngobeni said to reporter Riot Hlatshwayo, “A witch might have sent the donkey to attack the boy… But you are one of those educated people who believe there is no witchcraft, so I won’t tell you how it happens, because it is a big secret.” SOURCE

June 2004

A Phalaborwa tribal authority in Limpopo Province refused to grant permission for a Witch hunt after local women complained that evil spirits were raping them at night. SOURCE

July 2004

Limpopo villagers demanded their local Induna (tribal leader) Daniel Magomani, account for R300 they raised for a Witch-sniffing ceremony in 1996. The money was allegedly collected to hire a car with which to evict a villager accused of using Witchcraft. SOURCE

July 2004

An Mpumalanga man slit the throat of grand-mother Grace Chabalala (80) in front of shocked neighbours at her home in Peterskraal near Groblersdal after accusing her of bewitching him. SOURCE

August 2004

Hlalaphi Malandula (45) was hacked and stabbed with butcher’s knives, doused in petrol and set alight at her home in Khumbula tribal trust near White River in Mpumalanga Province by her own family, including her father, two sisters, brother and cousin, because they believed she had used Witchcraft to kill someone. SOURCE

August 2004

A Mozambican-born man was banished from Rhulani village near Tzaneen (Limpopo Province) after neighbours accused him of using Witchcraft to drive three people to commit suicide. SOURCE

September 2004

Umtata High Court Judge Irma Schoeman sentenced Siyabulela Ndoda for the murder of his grandmother, Mamlothana Ndoda, and Manqoma Novumile Tyebisa on the night of April 4 2000. Ndoda claimed he had contacted a witchdoctor to find the cause of the illness and death of his two children and the witchdoctor had identified the two women as Witches. SOURCE

November 2004

Bismark Lubisi reported that Pastor Mphatsi Mazibuko of the First Apostolic church in Langeloop, south of Malelane in Mpumalanga Province, went into hiding with relatives after his village accused him of Witchcraft and burned down his house on October 31. Villagers accused him of bewitching a 17 year old girl who had died of unknown causes. SOURCE

November 2004

Villagers believing a monkey to be a Witch’s relative searching for the Witch started to accuse each other of Witchcraft after one of the women claimed she saw a monkey herd cattle out of her yard.


January 2003

13 people in Polokwane (Limpopo Province) were arrested after attacking Mr. Matome Molele (67), whom they accused of Witchcraft. Police initially arrested 30 people who participated in burning down five houses in their attack on Molele. Molele managed to flee without being injured. SOURCE

March 2003

Riot Hlatshwayo reported that parents of pupils at Madlala High School in Justicia village, Bushbuckridge (Limpopo Province) were raising money to hire a sangoma in Swaziland to “sniff out” a Witch whom pupils were convinced was responsible for bewitching their school. After several deaths and incidences of violence at the school, pupils boycotted classes for two weeks until police formed a committee to investigate their concerns. Captain Moatshe Ngoepe of Mopani police warned the community that “witch-sniffing” was illegal. He told reporters that terrified villagers had killed a baboon believing it to be a Witch’s familiar. SOURCE


March 2002

A Durban (Kwazulu-Natal Province) police sergeant shot Lina Magagula at her home with his service pistol after accusing her of killing his father, mother and son through Witchcraft. Magagula was seriously wounded. SOURCE

May 2002

Pupils at Makgongwana High School in Makanye village, Polokwane (Limpopo Province) attacked a 15-year-old whom they accused of “casting a spell to make more than 20 girls faint during break”. Pupils allegedly smashed the windscreen of a police van with stones. The accused was taken into protective custody. SOURCE


February 2001

An unnamed 60 year old woman from Gumbani village in Malamulela, Limpopo Province, was accused by villagers of being a Witch and of involvement in the death of a local headman who died after an illness. Her home was set on fire and her family was expelled from the village. The woman laid charges against the villagers responsible for malicious damage to property and public violence at a local police station. The family was placed in protective custody. SOURCE

April 2001

Four Limpopo Province farm labourers appeared in the Duiwelskloof Court on a charge of accusing Khensani Makhubele (31) of being a Witch after hiring a prophet in September 2000. The four accused painted Makhubele white and she was dismissed from work. The accused were released with a warning and the case was postponed for trial to July 10. SOURCE

August 2001

A 67 year old man named Amoni Mokoena who was accused by a mob of being a Witch was burned to death in Masoyi village near Hazyview in Limpopo Province by angry school children and community members who were convinced he had bewitched a schoolgirl. The group forced Mokoena from his home, tied him up with wire, and took him to an isolated spot where they assaulted him before setting him alight. Mokoena, a night watchman at the same school the girl attended, was accused of having turned her corpse into a zombie. SOURCE

October 2001

Sekororo village, near Tzaneen (Limpopo Province) was placed under police surveillance after seven people and two goats were struck by lightning and killed. Lowveld police spokesperson Inspector Moatshe Ngoepe is alleged to have said to a reporter, “It is common for violence to erupt in villages if people believe such things are as a result of witchcraft”. SOURCE


September 20 2000

African Eye News Service reported that 16 people, eight of whom were teenage girls, accused 58 year old Mrs. Matjatji Selaelo Makhuna of Mokgolobotho village, Tzaneen (Limpopo Province) of Witchcraft after a 27-year-old villager, Flora Mohale, was killed in a car accident. The villagers besieged Mrs. Makhuna’s house, breaking windows and dismantling the roof in their attempt to apprehend her. She was rescued together with three daughters and two granddaughters by police and they were forced to spend three nights in the Tzaneen police station for their own safety. Tzaneen police spokesperson Inspector Caroline Sidutla advised Mrs. Makhuna not to return to Mokgolobotho village and undertook to help settle her and her family at Lusaka village 10km away. [15] The article confirms that the 16 accused appeared in the Ritavi Magistrates’ Court near Tzaneen and were charged with malicious damage to property and illegally identifying someone as a Witch. An article of 31 October reports that although Mrs. Makhuna and her family did move to Lusaka village, they were evicted by residents and forced to settle at another unnamed village 20 km away from Mokgolobotho. The 16 accused were released with a warning not to engage in further acts of revenge and the case was postponed to 16 January 2001. SOURCES: Ten more up for ‘witch-hunt’ and ‘16 up for attacking ‘witch’ 

October 10 2000

The South African Press Association reported that an elderly woman suspected of being a Witch and five others burnt to death after their home in Ngema in northern KwaZulu-Natal was attacked and set alight by five men. Neighbours only informed the police of the incident two days later. The victims were reported as being Makhemu Ngema (65), Mbhejile Sibiya (28), Hlengiwe Ntuli (20), Samukelisiwe Masikane (7), Khanyisane Ngema (6) and Siyabonga Masikane (aged 3). SOURCE 

November 02 2000

In ‘Bewitched rooster case set for trial’ Zenzele Kuhlase reported that five of the six men accused of hanging a suspected Witch, Simon Magagula (30), from a graveyard tree in Nelspruit, Mpumalanga, were freed on R1 500 bail each. The sixth, a minor when he was arrested, was released into the custody of his parents pending trial. Mr. Magagula was hanged on 26 December 1999 after being accusing of bewitching roosters. Four people who had been pecked by roosters belonging to Magagula complained of headaches and died shortly after. A chief of the local Clau-Clau tribal trust issued instructions that all roosters be killed and he established a committee to investigate the deaths of the four people who had been pecked. The committee consulted a sangoma who accused Mr. Magagula of being responsible for bewitching the roosters. SOURCE

December 2000

Dumisani Zondi reported that 76 year old Mrs. Maria Ngcobo was hacked to death in Khokhwane, Pietermaritzburg (Kwazulu-Natal) by an unknown assailant. Her grandson Sibusiso Ntombela (26) was shot. His body was discovered 150m from his home. Mrs. Ngcobo was in her home with her two grandchildren Andile (8) and Siyabonga Ntombela (6). Andile and Siyabonga escaped through a window and ran to fetch their neighbours. Andile sustained severe lacerations to her face and neck. Her sister Sibongile (14) told journalists she believed the attack was prompted by continuous accusations that her grandmother was practising Witchcraft. Zondi reported that neighbours suspected the attack was linked to the death of a local policeman who had died from an unknown cause. SOURCE

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