An angry black mob tried to burn down a church on Monday after the dismembered body parts of 4-year-old Lungisani Ntuli were found in a room on the property.
The volatile community of Ncotshane village in Phongolo, northern KwaZulu-Natal, set fire to a thatched cottage at St John’s Church.
Police stopped them setting fire to the church, and were stoned by the mob.
Lungisani went missing at midday last week Wednesday, and his body parts, the torso and an arm missing, were found on Saturday in the cottage.
Local ward councillor Jackson Mkhwanazi told the Daily News he had been informed by residents of the area that police, deployed to the area to monitor the situation, had clashed with the community before the church was burned.
“People just went on the rampage, throwing stones at the police, who had been preventing them from burning the church,” said Mkhwanazi.
The community apparently suspected the church priest had murdered the boy.
Lungisani’s uncle, Sakhile Ngubane, on Monday said the boy had been looked after by his grandmother while they were at work.
He said Lungisani had been playing with his friends outside, and had gone home to take off his shoes and went back again to play.
When it was time to eat, Lungisani could not be found.
He said the older children looked for the boy and said they were told he had been taken by a man selling sugarcane in the area, whom they identified as being short with dreadlocks.
“Other kids said the man called the boy and promised to buy him sweets. Two other kids who were playing (at) a sport ground said they saw the child walking with the sugarcane man. They called the boy over, but the man instructed the boy to stay with him,” he said.