When Ngcebo Zulu gathered his family members to pray before he left for a Sunday church service, he had no idea that this would be the last memory that his siblings would have of him.
At just 22 years old, Zulu’s life was snuffed out when heavily armed gunmen last week stormed a church in Khula village under the Mtubatuba municipality in northern Kwazulu-natal.
The gun-wielding assassins are believed to have intended to kill local pastor, Bishop Sicebi Msweli, 44, and Zulu was caught in the crossfire when gunmen fired more than 30 high-calibre shots, killing them both.
Zulu’s uncle, Mfana Nkwanyana, said that as an elder in the family he was failing to wrap his head around the tragic and brutal killing of his nephew.
“It feels like my heart has been physically ripped out of my chest. The family is distraught. We are asking ourselves questions as to what the world is coming to when criminals attack people inside a church.
“Ngcebo was a young boy who had big dreams, and this was taken away from him in the most cruel and violent way,” said Nkwanyana.
He said when they received a call to rush to the church, little did they know that it was to identify his nephew’s body, which lay in a pool of blood.
“I was not at home when he left for church, but I’m told that he gathered everyone and requested that they pray together before leaving for the Sunday service. This is the only memory that lingers on.”
The assassins are alleged to have ordered worshippers of the Salvation of Christ Church to lie on the floor before firing shots at the pastor and subsequently turned on Zulu, who had been assisting the clergyman with the scripture of the day.
According to some church members who watched in disbelief, Msweli had been leading a song when he met his death. The attackers left the church without taking anything.
Local induna Michael Mbuyazi said the villagers were living in fear following the unresolved killing of ANC councillor Phillip Mkhwanazi and a traditional leader Celumusa Msane.
“The community is gripped with fear and anxiety because of these unresolved killings,” said Mbuyazi.
While the cases of alleged assassinations are often handed over to the provincial task team, Captain Themba Mnyandu, detective branch commander heading the investigations, said: “Presently there is nothing positive on the case. But we are still investigating. Nobody has been arrested.”
The assassins ordered worshippers to lie on the floor before firing.
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