STORIES of ritual killings are usually the stuff of Nigerian Nollywood movies or western horror movies in the mould of Count Dracula or Friday the 13th.
But the High Court in Maseru recently heard real-life grisly details of how Mphatšoe Ntjelo connived with his wife, ’Mamotšabi Ntjelo, to murder their three children in 2014, cut off their heads and rip open their bodies to take out their hearts. The three murdered children are Nthona, Motsabi and the infant Reatseliseha Ntjelo. The couple also murdered Mphatšoe’s younger brother Molefi.
All of this just because Mphatšoe, of Mphaki village in Quthing, wanted to “become rich and own shops”. The couple never realised their dream of becoming rich after ’Mamotšabi later died while Mphatšoe was arrested and charged for the grisly murders.
Crown witness, ’Malebohang Ntjelo yesterday told High Court judge Justice Molefi Makara that Mphatšoe told her that “he killed his children and his younger brother Molefi Ntjelo because he wanted to be rich, own shops, cafes, businesses and have plenty of food and own race horses”.
“He (Mphatšoe) told us that he killed his two children, Motšabi and Nthona, in 2014. He told us that he gave the children moriana (a poisonous concoction) and one child died in the morning around 10 am and the other child died around 3pm in 2014.
“He told us that he then ripped open their stomachs and took out their hearts. He buried Motšabi in the big rondavel and Nthona in the smaller hut at his home in October 2014.
“He (Mphatšoe) also said that in January 2015, he instructed (his younger brother) Molefi to go to sleep. When he thought that the Molefi was sleeping, he went with his wife to where he (Molefi) was sleeping.
“The accused told us that while Molefi was asleep, his wife pressed him down very hard while he (Mphatšoe) took a doek and suffocated Molefi and cut off his head.
“The accused said when Molefi was dead, he took his knife and removed his visceral fat,” added ’Malebohang, an aunt of the accused.
Throughout ’Malebohang’s testimony, the suspect, Mphatšoe, who was clad in a blue long-sleeved tee shirt, stood emotionless in the dock. He and pleaded not guilty to all four counts of murder before Justice Makara.
’Malebohang said they first suspected something was amiss back in February 2015 when they noticed that Mphatšoe’s now deceased wife, ’Mamotšabi, was no longer nursing her infant child, Reatseliseha.
’Malebohang said on 9 February 2015, she and other relatives were sent by the Mphaki chief to Mphatšoe’s home to inquire about the whereabouts of the young child.
“I was one of the three members of the family who went to the accused’s home to inquire about the whereabouts of the young child.
He (Mphatšoe) told us that the child was still asleep. He also said his wife was mentally disturbed. We then returned to the chief and reported what he had told us,” ’Malebohang said.
She said the chief then called a meeting and ordered some men from the community to go to the accused (Mphatšoe)’s home to locate the child.
Upon arrival, the men who had gone there told the accused that they have come to see the child, but the accused (Mphatšoe) said he had sent the child to his doctor in Mohale’s Hoek where he had also sent his other children.
“However, under pressure from the men who had been sent by the chief, the accused (Mphatšoe) confessed that his wife had killed the child.
“When asked where the corpse of the child was, Mphatšoe pointed to the corner of the forecourt where she said the child was buried.
“When the chief asked why he did not report the death and when the chief said she would call police to exhume the body, the accused became restless, fled and jumped into the nearby river, but he was rescued by the men who had chased after him.
“After he was caught, he was asked where the other children were and that’s when he confessed that he had also killed Motšabi and Nthona,” ’Malebohang told the court.
The case is set to continue this week.