Two 9-year old girls were allegedly killed in a bizarre exorcism ritual in Ezimambeni in rural KwaZulu-Natal to ward off "evil spirits" who were "forcing them to drink blood".
According to police spokesperson Colonel Thembeka Mbele, Makhosonke Sibisi, Ngosingiphile Sithole and Nompumelelo Langa appeared in the Nkandla Magistrate's Court on two counts of murder on Monday. They were remanded in custody and will appear in court again next week.
Detectives from the Nkandla police station arrested them on 28 May after police received an anonymous call informing them to go to a house at Ezimambeni because the caller suspected that something "sinister was unfolding", News24 reported earlier.
"Upon arrival, the police were greeted with hostility by the family members who did not want their presence and asked who had called them. After a barrage of questions from the family members, police encountered a very gruesome scene," Mbele said.
"Two 9-year-old girls lay on the floor with bruises all over their bodies; one of the girls was already deceased and the other was unconscious. The police wasted no time and summoned the ambulance to the scene. Upon arrival, health officials certified one girl as dead and the second one was rushed to hospital."
Mbele said when police questioned the family members, they alleged that the girls were "attacked by evil spirits".
The family apparently told police that the girls had been complaining that an "evil spirit" was "beating them up and instructing them to drink blood".
The family then allegedly beat the girls as a form of exorcism.
Cause of death
"A local pastor was also called to pray for the girls and he also allegedly joined in the beating of the girls. Prior to the arrival of the police, the family had taken the deceased girl to the traditional healer. The traditional healer could not do anything for her because she was already deceased and he brought back the body to the family. A few days later, the second young girl who was taken to hospital succumbed to her injuries," Mbele said.
Investigations conducted by the Nkandla detectives, coupled with medical reports, revealed that the young girls were subjected to severe beatings, which was the cause of their death.
"Further investigations revealed that [in] 2015, another girl from the family died under mysterious circumstances and was buried a day after her death without the family informing any authorities," Mbele said.
"It is also suspected the same was going to happen to these young girls because, according to the investigations, the family had not reported their situation to anybody except for the pastor.
"Subsequent to the findings of the investigations the mother of one child, her relative and pastor were arrested on two counts of murder and appeared in the Nkandla Magistrate's Court on Monday."
Mbele said investigations were still ongoing and detectives would also probe the death of the third girl in 2015.
The accused will appear in court again on 8 June.
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