A father charged with hanging his four children after his wife allegedly served him divorce papers appeared in a South African court today.
Subusiso Mpungose, 44, is said to have waited until his teacher wife Xolisile, 42, went to work then took a string of taxis to pick up three of his children from a nearby creche and a school.
It is alleged that he took his son Kuhlekonke, 4, daughter Khwezi, 6, and son Sphesihile, 10, back to the marital home and then sent the oldest boy out to a local shop to buy them all snacks.
South African media said police sources told them that while his son had gone out shopping he hanged the younger two children with their school belts from burglar-prevention bars on the windows.
It is alleged that when Sphesihile then returned with treats for the family he was also strung up by his belt in a different room.
The three children were later found hanging dead in their school uniformed by armed police who broke into the family home.
Mpungose then tricked his wife’s teenage daughter from a previous marriage to come out of school before hanging her in nearby woods.
The mother first became concerned when she noticed unusual activity on her taxi App that showed trips being taken by her husband between their home and their children’s school.
She immediately went to a local police station at Wyebank in Durban, KwaZulu-Natal province, and said she was scared of her husband and was frightened to go back to her home alone.
A police team escorted her back and found the locks had been changed so they broke to door down to find the three hanging children.
Frantic Xolisile told officers about her fourth child Ayakha Jikane, 16, from a previous relationship and said she feared her husband may have gone after her in revenge.
When checks were made at her nearby school, Pinetown Girls High, friends of Ayakha said they saw her step-father putting her into a taxi and driving her away in the direction of his home.
A police search team scoured the area and found the schoolgirl, who was top of her class, hanging dead from a tree in her school uniform.
Mpungose went on the run on Tuesday afternoon after the alleged murders and was found the following day in another part of Durban where he was arrested.
It has also been alleged that he called the biological father of 16-year-old Ayakha and told him to come and fetch his ‘parcel’ from the woods.
When he was arrested it is alleged that he was in the process of trying to kill himself.
Police spokesperson Colonel Thembeka Mbhele said: ‘He will face four counts of murder.’
She added: ‘The children’s mother learned that the father had gone to fetch the children and became suspicious that he was up to something and went to the police for assistance.
‘Police went to the house with the mother of the children and on entering the house found two children hanging in the main bedroom and another hanging in another room.
Mother Xolisile told local media: ‘I went to the police station and they allocated me a van with police officers to check the house and when we arrived he had changed the house locks.
‘The police broke the lock and we found my children hanging from the windows. Their own clothing was used to hang them. They found my oldest daughter dead in a forest,’ she said.
KZN Social Development chief Nonhanhla Khoza said: ‘This heartless man who is supposed to protect his children allegedly fetched them from school only to kill them all like this’.
Yesterday a crowd gathered outside Pinetown Magistrates Court in Durban where Mpungose was charged with four counts of murder and he was remanded in custody until October 9.