A good community consists of great people that work together to achieve the impossible. They stick to one another to break through the rigid walls of poor-service delivery, poverty, crime, abuse and violations of human rights. However, in the community of Lindelani north of Johannesburg things are different; each and every three months a child is abducted, raped or killed for the making of ‘Umuthi.’ There’s no trust anymore among its residents due to the above factors.
Although the area looks elegant from the outside with proper houses, tarred roads, shopping centers and clinics, what continues to happen in it during the day and at night is terrifying. It sends a spark of fear down the spinal cord of its residents and it also causes the parents to sleep with one eye open to ensure the safety and well-being of their children.
Nontando Lubisi, a 7-year-old girl who lived with Vitiligo – a skin condition that causes discolouration of the skin due to the lack of melanin, was abducted on the 23rd of January 2018 in this area and her body was found ditched in the Limpopo river later on that week. She was discovered without her body parts and both her upper limbs were missing.
“It was in the afternoon when I sent her to the shop to buy some bread,” said her 72-year-old grandmother. “This was after she complained to me that she was hungry.” Her eyes welled up with tears as she explained. “I became worried when she didn’t return. I went around and asked people if they had seen a little girl with white irregular patches of skin on her face, and their response was simply, ‘No we have not seen her.’”
When the old lady was asked about how she felt the moment she realized that her grandchild was missing, she said, “I felt so terrible! My heart pounded faster than normal in my chest. I just imagined her cute smile, how she used to comb her long brown hair that framed her square face, and then I thought to myself, I will never see her again!” The stories that she had heard of through different media about girls who went missing after they were sent to the shops, or while they were busy playing, are what made her reach that conclusion.
The days passed by and Nontando was buried. However, her grandmother remained with gaping wounds for a very long time as investigations carried on to determine the people behind her grandchild’s killing. The process took so long and that eventually drained her patience. She almost gave up!
One time when Nontando’s grandmother was sitting outside her home in warm weather that was hot enough to make cumulonimbus clouds develop, she was astonished by a black Mercedes Benz that was parked by her gate. The doors of the car opened and two guys emerged from it dressed up in police uniform. One guy was muscular with broad shoulders, the other one was a bit taller and he had a sharp nose. The muscular guy was the detective. He was the one dealing with Nontando’s case. Both of them entered Nontando’s grandmother’s yard and went to where she was sitting, under a tree of peaches. They greeted her with excitement in their voices and she noticed that.
“Granny, we are here to bring you the good news,” the detective said with a smile. “Finally, we have found who killed your grandchild.”
“Oh, my children, that’s great news indeed. At last Nontando will rest in peace!” Granny said, gazing up the heavens.
“The person who killed your child is a local sangoma.”
The granny’s body temperature increased. Her world shattered at the mention of his name. The sangoma was her neighbor, they used to share things together. Even though the people in the community accused him of witchcraft she ignored them and didn’t bother to believe what they said about him. She couldn’t believe that the old man had killed her grandchild because he believed she would make strong muthi since she has Vitiligo.
It is indeed true when they say, “Love your neighbor but trust no one!”