In this week’s episode we investigate the dark world of muthi ritual killings. Our investigation begins in the small village of Tshitavha outside Thohoyandou in the Limpopo Province.

Mercy's sister - Elizabeth Ndou
Mercy’s sister – Elizabeth Ndou

In June this year villagers found the body of 33-year old Mercy Ndou. Her body had been dismembered and several parts had been removed. This is one in a series of muthi- murders that have rocked the community of Tshitavha.

In the bizarre drama that Special Assignment encountered in this village, even more shocking was the method of investigation employed by the police in trying to determine who the perpetrators of this heinous crime were. They called the members of the community to a meeting wherein they were requested to write the names of suspects on pieces of paper and put them in a bowl, held by one of the police officers. One traditional healer’s name in particular – Nelson Baloyi – is mentioned several times, and this is the same suspect who was later arrested and in a blow to the grieving family, the other suspect is Mercy’s nephew – Desmond Nemushungwa. The two grew-up together.

Nyelisani Sidimela - muthi victim
Nyelisani Sidimela – muthi victim

A further blow to the victim’s family comes when the suspects appear in court; the police also apply for the deceased’s body to be exhumed. The police claim they forgot to conduct DNA tests and in burying the deceased they also buried the evidence.

The police defend themselves on what appears to be a botched-up investigation but this is cold comfort to ordinary people who are yet to see justice done. This programme brings you the strange but real experiences of South Africa’s rural communities who are terrorised by this ongoing macabre ritual and are wondering who will be next in these senseless killings.

Frank Ferro with the community
Frank Ferro with the community

Watch AWAKEN THE DEAD produced by Frank Ferro. It will be broadcast on Special Assignment – aired Sundays on SABC 3 at 20:00PM.