A well-known Mpumalanga sangoma, Samuel “Mangebeletane” Tsela died in an inferno as angry community members attacked him, setting him on fire in a vigilante attack, Mpumalanga police said on Thursday.
The brutal murder of the traditional healer happened over the weekend, a few months after the KaBokweni Magistrate's Court in Mpumalanga withdrew murder charges against him.
Popularly known only as Mangebeletane, the sangoma was among five people who were accused of the brutal murder of six-year-old Bontle Mashiyane.
“Bontle Mashiyane‘s alleged murderer, well known as Mangebeletane, has been brutally murdered when community members allegedly set him alight at Mataffin, in Mbombela on November 18, at around 8.30pm,” Mpumalanga police spokesperson, Brigadier Selvy Mohlala said.
Police received information about a man who was burnt by community members.
“Police, as well as emergency medical services, responded to the information. Upon arrival they found a burnt man lying on the ground. He was certified dead by medical practitioners on the scene,” said Mohlala.
“He was identified by his family as Mangebeletane Samuel Tsela, who was also known as a traditional healer during the inhumane murder of Mashiyane, who was a neighbour at Masoyi.”
Regarding the traditional healer’s murder, Mohlala said a case of murder was opened at the Mbombela police station.
Police appealed to anyone with information that can lead to an arrest to contact Crime Stop on 086-001-0111, contact their nearest police station or send information via My SAPS App.
“All received information will be treated with a high level of confidentiality,” said Mohlala.
Meanwhile, provincial commissioner of police in Mpumalanga, Lieutenant General Semakaleng Daphney Manamela has condemned the mob justice incident, and she appealed to the community to avoid taking the law into their own hands.
Six-year-old Mashiyane was reported missing on April 3 last year, and her body was discovered on May 21, at Mganduzweni near White River.
Mashiyane went missing the same weekend as the late Hillary Gardee, the slain daughter of former Economic Freedom Fighters’ secretary general, Godrich Gardee.
Mashiyane’s murder is believed to have been linked to muti, and the two bodies were recovered in areas not too far from each other.
Mashiyane’s body was found decomposed, with some body parts missing.
IOL reported that one of the suspects, Thapelo Ngomane, in a video recording, confessed to how they dismembered Mashiyane’s body and removed her womb and her knees.
“For another child, a sangoma paid us R45,000 for body parts and for Mashiyane we were given R20,000. I don’t know the buyer but I have met his son, who told us what was needed and we gave him,” said Ngomane.
“Me and another man have slaughtered three children. I can’t dismember the body, the other guy is the one who can do that. I can kidnap only, but can’t slaughter a human being.”
He said that there are other children’s bodies that were recovered, and confirmed that they gave the body parts to the sangoma. He said wombs were in demand.
Five people, including Mangebeletane, were initially arrested for the the rape and murder Mashiyane.
Mashiyane's neighbour Ntombikayise Ngwenya, her boyfriend Collen Hlongwane, their friend Thapelo Ngomane, Mangebeletane and his son were accused of the heinous crime.
In February, Mangebeletane and his son Philasande Tsela were granted R5,000 bail each.
In July, the SABC reported that charges against Mangebeletane – the alleged mastermind in the killing of Mashiyane – had been provisionally withdrawn by the KaBokweni Magistrate's Court in Mpumalanga.