A priest and five members of the African Gospel Church congregation in Humansdorp, South Africa, have been accused of murdering a seven-year-old girl during a bizarre exorcism ritual, believing that her epilepsy was caused by demons.
Pastor Lonwabo Thando, 30, and Mhlabelesi Nodaka, 22, Unathi Norushu, 22, Nteboheng Thukani, 21, and Busisiwe Thukani, 24, appeared in the Humansdorp Magistrate’s Court last week charged with murdering Mihlali Mazantsi.
They will stay in jail till they apply for bail on Monday, along with a 32-year-old man who was also part of the “prayer group” which apparently tried to do the exorcism. […]
They are also charged with the attempted murder of a 25-year-old woman who was allegedly locked in a house in KwaNomzamo township for four weeks and repeatedly assaulted.
Mihlali was apparently sent from her home in Keiskammahoek to the church by her mother, Nomaxabiso Mazantsi, to be cured of epilepsy with a “healing miracle”. […]
She travelled to Humansdorp a few days later to find her child vomiting and suffering from diarrhoea. She slept overnight in the same house as her child, but was initially not allowed close to her.
“They told me she was getting better. The pastor said she was vomiting because the demons were leaving Mihlali.”
Mazantsi said she was encouraged to attend a church service in a marquee tent set up by the church near the house where her daughter was being kept, and was later allowed to go to her bedside.
“Her face was swollen and her left eye was closed. There was a bruise over her eye. I tried to lift her up to me to hug her, but she said her body was sore. Then she coughed and started to vomit again.”
Sapa says that when those involved realized the girl needed medical attention they tried to take her to hospital, but the child died on the way there.
Police spokesman Priscilla Naidu said the postmortem results showed Mihlali had suffered both internal and external injuries.
Naidu added that the 25-year-old attempted murder complainant had suffered physical injuries and had ”bruises all over her body.”