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Thirteen dead in apparent herbal poisoning

Staff Reporter

Thirteen members of a family have been found dead in their home near Port Shepstone, KwaZulu-Natal, apparently having consumed a fatal herbal mix.

Thirteen members of a family have been found dead in their home near Port Shepstone on the KwaZulu-Natal South Coast amid suspicions they may have consumed a fatal herbal concoction, police said on Monday.

The Mazubanes had apparently been carrying out a regular ritual of taking herbal medicine when they began collapsing, police spokesperson Superintendent Zandra Wiid said.

Two male family members survived as they were not at the home at the time.

On Sunday, a neighbour who had gone to borrow a Bible from the family found the 13 bodies in the lounge of the family’s Dingleton home, situated in an informal settlement that borders the resort town of Paddock.

Found dead were a two-week-old baby, four boys aged between two and seven, a 17-year-old boy, a 21-year-old man, four women in their 30s and two 55-year-olds.

Wiid said these were the grandparents, their children and grandchildren.

The South African Press Association reported that all the victims had blood dripping from their noses when they were found.

It was believed that the 17-year-old, a trainee traditional healer, had administered the deadly concoction.

“It is alleged that one family member who was trained as a traditional healer gave them a certain herbal medicine, which is suspected to have been the cause of the deaths,” Wiid said.

The brother of the trainee healer, David Mazubane (29), said he was still in shock. He said he had met his younger brother in Port Shepstone “but he didn’t tell me what he was going to do. It’s all a shock to me.”

He said his younger brother had started training as a traditional healer when he was 15.

On Monday, police said post-mortems were being carried out.

The family were last seen on Saturday evening and police suspect the ritual may have been carried out overnight.

Police believe the trainee may have accidentally given them the wrong herbs. The name of the herbal medicine used was still unknown.

“We don’t know what the purpose was for taking it, or if the family had been sick at the time,” she said.

Police said that according to residents, the Mazubane clan were well known and respected in the community.

An inquest docket has been opened.—Sapa

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