A handful of Samora Machel residents gathered at the Philippi Magistrate’s Court, on Friday May 18, to support fellow community members in a case linked to witchcraft.
Brandishing posters denouncing witchcraft, residents descended on the court to support Ongezwa Marawu and Xolisa Thontsi who were arrested at the beginning of the month in connection with the assault of a woman believed to be a witch.
It is alleged that the woman had tormented the small informal settlement of Duma Nokwe, in Samora, for years. She is also accused of making gross remarks about dead people.
According to residents, the last straw was an incident on Sunday April 22, when she allegedly claimed to have been responsible for the death of Ms Marawu’s mother and another unidentified child in the area.
The woman also allegedly stripped naked and demanded that Mr Thontsi engage in sexual intercourse with her in public.
A visibly emotional Ms Marawu said it was painful to hear someone talking about her late mother who passed in 2004.
While she had accepted her death, she said such actions were making it difficult for her. “I am very hurt by the whole situation,” said Ms Marawu.
She added that the woman also claimed to have been responsible for her aunt’s passing last year. “These are difficult to swallow as both individuals died mysteriously,” said Ms Marawu.
Outside court, Mr Thontsi said he had been frightened by the remarks but denied having assaulted the woman.
He added that scores of people had witnessed the incident and that some had taken pictures of her when she undressed herself.
Residents showed Vukani some of the pictures taken on the day.
Community leader, Ncediswa Qondo, accused the complainant of wasting police resources. She said the woman had previously opened cases against some community members, but failed to turn up for court cases. “That is how she is. She creates stories against people all the time,” said Ms Qondo.
Police spokesperson, Captain Ntomboxolo Sitshitshi, said the suspects, aged 25 and 26, faced charges of assault with intent to do grievious bodily harm.
“The two had allegedly insulted and accused a woman of being a witch,” said Captain Sitshitshi. “They further allegedly poured boiling water on the victim and as a result her lower jaw was affected and she sustained burn wounds,” she said.
The case has been postponed to Tuesday June 26.