Tshiphiri Daba, Rolivhuwa Mukhotho, Orifha Mukhotho, Thivhusiwi Musandiwa and Mashudu Mphaphuli appeared in the Thohoyandou Magistrate's Court on Monday afternoon on charges of arson. Photo: Victor Mukwevho Ne-vumbani.

Alleged arsonists appear in court


Five suspects who were nabbed for allegedly burning down a house at Matangari village last year briefly appeared in a packed Thohoyandou Magistrate’s Court on Monday, 30 October. Their case was postponed to 21 November as the State told the court that three more suspects were still to be charged.

Tshiphiri Daba, Rolivhuwa Mukhotho, Orifha Mukhotho, Thivhusiwi Musandiwa and Mashudu Mphaphuli are alleged to be part and leaders of a mob that went to the house of Mr Mmbetsheleni Daba on 6 September 2022, right after they had attended a meeting with their traditional leader and the royal council. They allegedly first started breaking all the windows before setting the house on fire, which burnt to the ground.

The exact details of what had been discussed during the meeting at the royal house are not known, but the actions of the community members that followed seemed to be in response to the rape of a 26-year-old woman the previous week. The woman was allegedly raped by an illegal immigrant from Zimbabwe, who was beaten to death by an angry crowd a week later. Daba was accused of harbouring the Zimbabwean national.

Daba’s 13-year-old son, Lavhelesani Daba, who was returning home at the time of the incident, said he was shocked to see such a huge crowd descending on the family home. “I was terrified. I just stood next to the fence and hid there while I watched our whole house being engulfed by fire. I lost all my clothes, including my books and school uniform. I also saw people stealing live chickens,” he said.

Daba was apparently home when the attack on his home started but miraculously escaped the inferno. Community members who witnessed the incident said the police had been informed of the crowd’s intentions to burn the house down but had done nothing.

Right after their court appearance, one of the accused, Mr Norman Siebathavha, who is the secretary of Matangari village’s traditional council, and Ms Pfarelo Mphaphuli, who is the sister of the accused Mashudu Mphaphuli, confronted Limpopo Mirror’s journalist, demanding to know who had given him the right to take their pictures in court. “Are you going to write that we burnt the house down?” Siebathavha wanted to know.

The sixth suspect in the case, Idani Ndou, failed to make his appearance with the others on Monday because he was apparently writing his Matric examinations. A warrant of arrest was issued against him, but it will be stayed until he is expected to appear in court again with his co-accused on 21 November.



Date:03 November 2023

By: Victor Mukwevho

Victor Mukwevho Ne-vumbani joined the Mirror during it's inception in 1990. He joined the SABC newsroom in 1995, and was known by  listeners as "A u fhedzisela ari". He was a news editor for The Tembisan Newspaper from 2007 to 2015. He rejoined the Limpopo Mirror newspaper in June 2022 as a freelance journalist.

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