Tuesday, March 9, 2021

Tension mounts in Tonota village over ritual killings

Tension is brewing in Tonota village after a 38-year-old man died of wounds that are believed to have been caused by ritual murderers at Magojwe cattle post near Tonota village two weeks ago.

The deceased, Tebogo Pingping Kereemang, who was employed as a herdsman at the cattle post was found by passersby and his employer lying unconscious in a pool of blood who then reported the matter to the police.

It is alleged that some of his body parts were found missing. He was later referred to Nyangabwe Referral Hospital where he later died.

However, a crime fighting group of youths in the village who┬ácall themselves “Malwantwa” are pointing an accusing finger at the police for failing to investigate and arrest the perpetrators as they believe ┬áthat the deceased was murdered for ritual purposes. The group feels that the deceased was killed by some prominent figures in the village.

┬áAfter the deceased’s burial ceremony on Thursday last week things took a different twist as the group marched to the village Kgotla in their quest to petition the village chief over the ritual killings that are haunting the village.

Police and the Special Support Group (SSG) officers in armored vehicles had to be deployed at the village Kgotla on Thursday to keep a vigilant eye on the situation.

The leader of Malwantwa group who is also the deceased family’s spokesperson, Kamogelo Mashaba Bakgethisi told The Telegraph in an interview that the reason for their march at the Kgotla was to convene a peaceful meeting with the village chief over the ritual killings in the village. He said that that they had agreed with the chief to meet and discuss over the killings only to be stopped by the police.

“The report that we got from the police postmortem report is that the man died from meningitis disease and had developed wounds. We are not buying the story because the family of the deceased had to engage another independent forensic pathologist from the Ministry of Health who indicated that the man died from wounds that were inflicted on him. We feel that the police are hiding something from us and they are probably conniving with the culprits behind the killing,” he added.

Bakgethisi said that what shocks them as Tonota residents is that the man was found with wounds that clearly indicated that he was attacked despite the claim by the postmortem report stating that he died a natural death.

“One of the passersby who found the man even told us that the man was badly injured when he was found at the cattle post and some of his dogs had also been injured. Now the postmortem report from the police indicates that the deceased died a natural death. We believe this is foul play,” he said.

He said that after doubting the police postmortem report, he (Bakgethisi) together with the deceased’s family members had to approach the Deputy Divisional Commander of Police (North), Chajane Baleseng to sought permission to engage another independent pathologist from the Ministry of Health.

“Baleseng gave us a go ahead. The second forensic pathologist conducting the autopsy revealed in his report that the deceased died as a result of wounds that were inflicted on him. It seems the police did not want to thoroughly investigate this case because it implicates some high profile figures in Tonota village,” he said

Bakgethisi said that this is not the first ritual murder case in the village. He said last year, another man was killed and some of his body parts were mutilated. He said that the culprits then threw the man in the middle of the road to fake a road accident, but fortunately one motorist found the deceased person before he was knocked off by vehicles.

“The police never thoroughly investigated the case again and the victim was buried. No culprit was arrested. Ritual killings in this village are a growing concern. Several other ritual killings have happened over the years and have gone unsolved. It is either the police are sleeping on their job or they are conniving with the perpetrators,” said a clearly enraged Bakgethisi.

He said that they are currently drafting a petition to hand over to the Commissioner of Police, Keabetswe Mokgophe over the ritual killings that are tormenting the village.

Reached for comment, the Station Commander of Tonota Police Station, Robson Maleka rubbished off the allegations by the group saying that their forensic pathologist conducted his own examination in the presence of the relatives of the deceased and came to the conclusion that the deceased died a natural death.

“The deceased was found intact with no missing body parts. An autopsy was done in the presence of his relatives. We long pleaded with the villagers to come forth with information when were conducting our investigations and no one did that,” he said.

Asked on why Malwantwa group was halted in its endeavor to meet with the village chief on Thursday, Maleka said that it is against the law for a group of people to march without first giving sound explanations or getting a permission from the police to do so. He however acknowledged that burial proceedings on the deceased had to be delayed as some of his relatives had doubted the post mortem report and wanted to engage another pathologist.

“The deceased could have been buried last week. The burial proceedings had to be delayed as the family wanted to indulge their own pathologist,” he said.

In conclusion he rubbished reports that there are many ritual killings in the village. He said that ever since his tenure from two years ago as the Station Commander of Tonota Police Station they have never registered any ritual murder case.

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