The family of Thozama Sonjica, 17, who died after allegedly being tortured during a botched exorcism, sat in a darkened room in their modest home on KwaZulu-Natal’s south coast on Monday, overcome with grief and anger.
They were comforted by KwaZulu-Natal’s social development MEC Nonhlanhla Khoza and a team of officers as they discussed the events leading up to the teenager’s death and the alleged assault and torture of four others Children believed to be “possessed” by demons.”
A pastor living in the KwaNzimakwe area of Ray Nkonyeni Parish reportedly held the girls for five days, beginning May 25 long held hostage and accused them of being controlled by demons.
It is alleged that the children were attacked, beaten and had water and salt poured over their bodies and noses before being handed over to their parents became. However, Sonjica did not return home.
Her mother reported the incident to officials at her daughter’s school.
A group of community members gathered at the family home to show their support the grieving family.
Mxolisi Jula, speaking on behalf of the family, said that if they had not been a law-abiding family, things could have turned out differently if they had taken revenge.
< p > “Perhaps some of us would have been either in the hospital or in jail,” said Jula, a councilwoman in the area.
He said the five teenage children were close friends and Sonjica was gentle- spoken.
Deputy Principal at Bheki High School, Grace Mavundla, who attended the five children, said two parents, including Sonjica’s mother, told the teachers that their children had attended a religious retreat /p>
“We didn’t read much into it, we “Il we thought maybe this was a family thing,” Mavundla said.
She said a week later a family representative informed them that the child had died.
Khoza said that those who attacked the children had clear intentions to cause them pain.
“It is unfortunate that those who are supposed to protect children, including the Church, have been involved in such abuse , resulting in the death of a child leads. We want everyone involved in the abuse, torture and brutal killing of children to be arrested.”
She said the allegations are very serious, given that the church is a “sanctuary” for children should.
The MEC said the concerned parents must also answer why their children were allowed to stay away.
“It cannot be normal for children to be attacked and murdered in this way. Our social workers should visit the school to provide psychosocial support,” she said.
Inkosi Bhekizizwe Nzimakwe, chairman of the KwaNzimakwe Traditional Council, said he was “pained by the horrific incident” involving a church was involved and that no one had reported him.
KwaZulu-Natal Police spokesman Brig Jay Naicker said a 40-year-old man had been arrested and appeared in court on Monday.
< He said Port Edward Police were on information of a death in the Brema area on May 29th. "Upon arriving at the scene, police were shown the body of a 17-year-old girl who had injuries to her body. Police were told that the victim committed suicide because she was demon-possessed. A record of the investigation has been opened," he said.
“On June 3, police received a report of a 16-year-old girl being treated for injuries at a local clinic and taken to the hospital for medical attention became. It was determined that three other girls were in the home and the girls, aged between 15 and 18, were rescued.”
Naicker said autopsy results showed the first victim died from the injuries , who contracted it after being severely assaulted.
Charges of murder, attempted murder and assault have been opened.
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