Muti killings? The British couple was kidnapped in August last year on their farm Scottsburgh in KwaZulu-Natal’s Mooi River area.

The case of the missing Mooi River couple has taken a shock twist when it was revealed they were allegedly murdered days after being kidnapped and their bodies dismembered to be sold for muti in Johannesburg.

This disturbing update came to light this week during the bail hearing of one of the accused – the 22-year-old Lungelo Mkhize – at the Mooi River Magistrate’s Court on Tuesday, 19 March.

What we know of the Mooi River couple so far

Mkhize, who worked for pensioners Antony (73) and Gillian (78) Dinnis on their farm for two years before he found a job in Mooi River as a security guard, is facing two counts of kidnapping and one of extortion.

The retired couple went missing on 30 August 2023 with their son, Sam Dinnis, receiving a WhatsApp message from his mother’s phone on 2 September.

“To make things easy, just pay R2 million into this bank account number if you want to see your parents again,” the message (translated from isiZulu) read.

The bank account which was provided to pay the ransom money into, was that of Gillian.

State opposes bail

According to The Witness, the State opposed bail, citing the fact that police have still not found the couple’s bodies or their cellphones, as well as a confession by a second suspect.

In an affidavit submitted in court by Detective Warrant Officer Johannes de Lange, the second suspect, who was employed by the couple at the time of their disappearance, allegedly admitted to the police that he was one of three men involved in the kidnapping.

Suspects ‘planned to sell body parts of couple for muti’

“He also indicated that they went to the Dinnis’s residence and took a brush cutter, chainsaw and a TV. He revealed that the other two men were armed with firearms. Thereafter, they left with the couple and went to another residence, where they murdered the couple,” De Lange stated.

According to the suspect, they then cut off some of the couple’s body parts, which they planned to sell for R50 000 for muti in Johannesburg.  

Mkhize was arrested on 16 September last year, following an extensive investigation that linked him to one of the couple’s cellphones into which a SIM card had been inserted.

De Lange said Mkhize was found in possession of the handset, as well as a firearm, allegedly used in the kidnapping, when he was arrested.

“The suspect was brought to the crime intelligence office in Pietermaritzburg, where he mentioned to the members that he was involved in the kidnapping of “two white people”.

Mkhize will be remanded in custody until his next court appearance on 19 April. The police are still looking for two other suspects believed to have been involved in the case.

Little Joshlin Smith allegedly sold for muti

The reality of muti killings in South Africa has recently come to the fore with the disappearance of the missing six-year-old Saldanha Bay girl Joshlin Smith.

Joshlin – who is known as “the green-eyed girl” by members of her poor coastal community of Middelpos, in Diazville – disappeared on 19 February this year.

Her mother, Racquel “Kelly” Smith and her mother’s boyfriend, Jacquin “Boeta” Appollis, have been charged alongside Steveno van Rhyn and Lourentia “Renz” Lombaard with human trafficking and kidnapping.

The state alleges that her mother instructed Appollis and Van Rhyn to sell Joslin to a traditional healer for R20 000 to be used in muti.

Muti murders: ‘Value chain’ of key players

Forensic psychologist Gérard Labuschagne has been involved in more than 30 muti murder investigations during the time that he was the head of the Investigative Psychology Unit of the South African Police Service (Saps).

Crime statistics in South Africa only record muti murders within the general category of murder.

Labuschagne said it is therefore difficult to determine the extent of such crimes, especially because most often these murders occur in rural areas, and may go unreported to the police.

According to his 2004 research paper, titled Features and Investigative Implications of Muti Murders in South Africa, three people are usually involved in these murders: A client, a sangoma and the murderer(s).

Muti murders: Harvesting of body parts and organs

Labuschagne said that the victim’s death was induced by the injuries inflicted while the body parts were being removed.

“Traditionally, the victim must be alive when the body parts are removed, as this increases the power of the muti because the body parts are believed to retain the person’s life essence,” he said.

The weapons used tend to be everyday items such as pocket-knives, sharp kitchen knives or even in one instance a sharpened putty-spatula used for tiling and inserting panes of glass, according to Labuschagne.

Victims can range in age from a newborn infant to an adult.

ALSO READ: Two men claim in grim confession they sold Joslin Smith for muti


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