It looks as though there will be no justice for a mentally disabled man from Atteridgeville who was stabbed to death – allegedly by his own father, for muti.
The trial of Madietja Lazarus Pitjeng – who was charged with murdering his son, Frans Thille Pitjeng, as well as defeating the ends of justice – was supposed to kick off in the North Gauteng High Court, sitting in Benoni, on Monday. However, the matter had to instead be struck from the roll after the court heard Pitjeng had died in custody at Pretoria’s Kgosi Mampuru II prison just a few weeks earlier.
In April 2018, local police were called out to Atteridgeville West’s Extension 19, where a 1,000-strong mob had cornered then 71-year-old Pitjeng.
According to the community, Pitjeng had been found pushing a trolley with his dead son’s body inside of it.
Upon closer inspection of the trolley, police found Frans’s body wrapped in a black plastic bag. The then 30-year-old had been stabbed in his neck and his abdominal organs as well as his genitals had been removed.
Pitjeng was subsequently arrested and a knife, which police believe was the murder weapon, was seized.
As per the indictment, Pitjeng had “arranged some of the body parts of the deceased in a place other than the place where the murder occurred, in such a manner that they would dry out presumably to be used as muti”. A police dog later located these body parts.
While the events leading up to Frans’s death are not clear, according to members of the community, who had questioned Pitjeng about his son’s death, Pitjang had told them that “his days were over” and “it was the time for his death”.
In his initial statement to police, Pitjeng did not deny the allegations against him. He had not, however, at the time of his death, yet tendered a plea.
Pitjeng’s death certificate records his cause of death as “natural causes” and states that he died on 14 December 2019.
Frans suffered from epilepsy and could not talk.
In 2015, mentally impaired cricketer Nawaaz Khan was the victim of another muti killing, in KwaZulu Natal.
While people with albinism are sometimes targeted in muti killings, former Occult Unit Commander Dr Kobus Jonker said yesterday that – in his experience – the same was not true for people with other mental or physical disabilities.