IN ONE of the most bizarre killings police have ever probed, two people were shot, burnt to death and their bodies thrown into a grave during the burial of the wife of one of the victims, near Burgersfort in Limpopo at the weekend.
The act left the community of Tubatse village in shock after the two men were attacked by angry mourners with an assortment of weapons just as the coffin carrying the body of the wife of one of the victims was lowered into the on Saturday morning.
Police confirmed that several suspects, including the dead woman’s relatives, were involved in the gruesome attack. However, they could not give details of how the woman died or what could have sparked the crime. They also declined to reveal the names of the dead woman and the two men.
Sources in the village said mourners had converged at the house of the deceased woman where the funeral service began on Saturday morning. The cortege then proceeded to the Mashifane village cemetery about 8am. A few minutes later, after the funeral rites had been performed, all hell broke loose.
A group of mourners turned on the two men, who sustained serious injuries. Police spokesperson Moatshe Ngoepe said: “It is alleged that at about 8am at Mashifane village, a group of community members attacked two men and burned them before they threw their bodies inside an open grave, put the soil back and left.
“The situation is still volatile and we are arresting the suspects who were at the funeral. Most of them have been identified and arrests are still ongoing. “We were told the identities of the two men, which we cannot reveal now as we have to confirm that through our forensics department.
“Now we are putting much of our focus on identifying what the motive was behind the killings.” Ngoepe said one mourner produced a firearm at the cemetery and shot both men at point-blank range.
They then burnt their bodies before throwing them into the open grave and putting the woman’s coffin on top of them. They covered the grave with soil before leaving. According to sources, the woman’s relatives blamed her husband for her death. “She died during the week of Christmas and her husband could not explain how she died. “Her relatives also later discovered that some of her body parts were missing.
“The woman’s family became angrier when the man initially refused to attend the funeral service.”
However, they managed to persuade him to attend the service, unaware that he was falling into a deadly trap. “He attended the service together with his friend. They were both killed, burnt and buried.”
Police were later alerted to the crime. On arrival at the cemetery, they exhumed the three bodies and took them to the state mortuary for forensic investigation. Ngoepe yesterday said they were investigating the motive behind the brutal killings, as well as the cause of the woman’s death.
“We have arrested four suspects aged between 19 and 59 who were positively linked to two counts of murder, violation of a grave and possession of an unlicensed firearm. “During the arrest, a 9mm firearm, which is believed to be the one used to kill the two men, was confiscated. More arrests are expected as our investigations are at a sensitive stage,” Ngoepe said.
The situation was still tense yesterday and residents were too shocked and afraid to talk openly about the events that unfolded at the cemetery. Those interviewed said they could not discuss the incident for fear those responsible could turn on them. “What happened was unbelievable. It was bizarre and nobody knows what the motive was for the attack,” a resident said.
Ngoepe appealed to anyone with information regarding the incident to contact the police.
Limpopo provincial police commissioner Lt-Gen Nneke Ledwaba yesterday condemned the incident and immediately established a dedicated team comprising crime intelligence detectives and public order police to hunt down more suspects and prevent possible mob violence