Authorities in Mpumalanga, South Africa, have verified that a suspect in the rape and killing of 6-year-old Bontle Mashiyane was killed by burning at the stake by locals in Mataffin, Mbombela.

A traditional healer known as Mangebeletane Samuel Tsela, 63, was among the individuals detained in connection with Bontle’s murder in Mpumalanga last year.

After going missing from her house in Mganduzweni, close to Hazyview, on April 30, Bontle’s body was discovered 21 days later, severely disfigured.

Charges for the kidnapping, murder, and rape of Bontle were brought against her neighbour Ntombikayise Ngwenya, her lover Collen Hlongwane, Mangebeletane, his son Philasande Tsela, 28, and one other.

R5000 bail was given to Mangebeletane and his son, with the requirement that they appear in court for the duration of the case.

It was learned that the community members turned to jungle justice when the Kabokweni Magistrates Court temporarily dropped the accusations against Mangebeletane for lack of proof.

Police spokesperson, Brigadier Selvy Mohlala, in a statement on Sunday, November 19, 2023, said police received information about a man who was burnt and upon arrival he was certified dead by medical practitioners on scene.

“Bontle Mashiyane’s alleged murderer well known as Mangebeletane has been brutally murdered when community members allegedly set him alight at Mataffın in Mbombela yesterday, 18 November 2023 around 20:30,” the statement read.

“According to information, police received information about a man who was burnt by community members. Police as well as Emergency Medical Services responded to the information.

“Upon arrival they found man burnt lying on the ground. He was certified dead by medical practitioners on the scene.

“He was identified by his family as Mangebeletane Samuel Tsela, who was also known as a traditional healer during the inhuman murder of Mashiyane who was a neighbour at Masoyi.

“Mangebeletane was known for brutally killing Bontle Mashiyane in Masoyi last year.

“A case of murder has been opened in Nelspruit Police Station following the burning of Mangebeletane.

“If you have any information that could help police apprehend these suspects, please contact Crime Stop at 08600 10111. Alternatively, you can use the My SAPS App to submit information to the police.

“Every information we receive will be handled with the utmost discretion. Lieutenant General Semakaleng Daphney Manamela, the SAPS Provincial Commissioner for Mpumalanga, has denounced mob justice and cautioned the populace against enforcing lawlessness on their own.”