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BHAWHINI – A man, alleged to be a soldier, was tortured to death by an angry mob at Bhahwini, after he and three accomplices conducted an unofficial raid at a homestead. The four men who according to eyewitnesses were dressed in army camouflage, carrying rifles, were overpowered by an elderly man and his son who were armed with a bush knife and a spear in the late night hours of Thursday. Bhahwini is a rural area in the outskirts of Mankayane. One of the attackers was stabbed with a spear, but managed to escape the father and son duo. This was the second time in a space of a month the family was attacked by unknown people. The motive of the attack remains unknown and is a subject of police investigation.
Though soldiers in the country are known to carry rifles known as the Galil Ace 21, none of the family members were able to identify the rifles carried by the men as the incident occurred in the dark.


After the scuffle, the rifle was recovered and handed over to the Mankayane police. The wo family members who had armed themselves with the traditional weapons also sustained injuries during the confrontation. The four men are said to have attacked the Tsela family at around 10pm, while pronouncing themselves to be officers  of the law who were conducting a raid. However, when they met a strong resistance, violence reigned supreme resulting in an armed confrontation between the two family members and the armed visitors. The head of the family Msenge Tsela (67) said he was asleep in his thatched hut when he heard screams for help coming from another house in which his son Lwazi was sleeping, about 30 metres away.
“I sprang up, grabbed my spear and ran out in my underwear towards my son’s house. I suddenly noticed that there were people outside the house who were holding big rifles and as I drew near they shot at me, but missed. I then decided to run after them and managed to stab one of them with a spear,” he said. Tsela said he then noticed that his son was also wrestling one of the men, while his gun had fallen to the ground. He said when it became clear that he and his son were overpowering the men, they fled. The father and son said they chased after two of them who fled towards the western side of the homestead, while still carrying guns.


One of the gunmen stumbled onto a rocky area and fell, banging his face against a rock. Msenge, who was a few paces behind him, said he found him lying on the ground, while his gun had also fallen about a metre away. “I took the gun and hit him on the head with its butt. By that time, other family members and neighbours had responded to the screams for help and came closer to assist,” he said. Meanwhile, another member of the gunmen is said to have escaped to a nearby wattle forest, where he fired a gunshot, probably in an effort to scare away the family members from where his  counterpart was lying.

Msenge said the man who was apprehended was later brought to the family yard where questions were asked on his identity and what their intention was. “He refused to cooperate and said we would rather kill him than for him to state what the intention of attacking the homestead really  was,” Msenge said. Meanwhile, the elderly man said all amount of probing by family members and neighbours failed to yield fruit as the man did not respond to their questions. Police were then called from Mankayane and arrived about an hour later, where they found the injured man still within the family compound. The man was eventually taken to the Mankayane Government Hospital but he died along the way to hospital. It is suspected that  he succumbed to injuries however no post-mortem has been conducted yet and police are still  investigating.

Msenge assisted the police yesterday as they combed the area for gun cartridges to help in the investigation.  Traces of blood were also seen along the direction in which the injured suspects fled. There were no other raids in the area which compounds speculation that the family had been targeted.
Msenge said along with the gun, the man was also found in possession of 16 live rounds of ammunition in his pocket.


A neighbour, who had also responded to the calls for help said during interrogation, by the community members, the deceased had given out a phone number, which he said was of a next of kin. “He refused to state why he was in the Tsela homestead, so we decided to make him give us the number of a family member. He said he however, did not call the number, but gave it to the police for investigations,” the community member said, declining to be named.

Chief Police Information and Communication Officer Superintendent Phindile Vilakati confirmed the incident and said reports that came in were to the effect that one person died and others sustained injuries. “It was said that the men were pretending to be police officers but were dressed in army camouflage  when they approached the family members. For now, no one has been arrested as we have opened an inquiry file,” she said. She said the other accomplices in the crime had still not been found. When police searched the area yesterday they found the tooth of the deceased on the rocks.
Public Affairs Officer in the Umbutfo Eswatini Defence Force (UEDF) Tengetile Khumalo said her office had no record of the alleged incident.
“There is no operational report that has been forwarded nor conveyed to my office with regard to the alleged issue at hand,” she said. Meanwhile, inside sources in the army revealed the name of the soldier but it could not be published as his next of kin had not been informed.

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