City Press, 22 March 2008

PLEASE NOTE: Readers wishing to reproduce and reference this article
should contact the editors of the City Press for permission

The sole survivor of a gruesome family massacre has told how a bunch of gun-wielding thugs broke into his family home, which doubles as a spaza shop, and robbed him and his four brothers of a week's takings before tying them together and setting them alight. A distraught and traumatised Lawrence Gwenzi of Winterveldt, north of Tshwane, who miraculously survived the blaze, still cannot come to terms with the death of his four siblings. "I helplessly watched three of them burn to ashes," said Gwenzi (22) with a breaking voice and tears welling in his eyes. The one brother he managed to pull out of the blaze, Mogoni, had sustained severe burns. He died after spending a week at Odi hospital in a coma. The incident occurred last Saturday just before midnight after the brothers had put out their candles to retire. "We were woken by a loud bang as the robbers were breaking down the wall with a hammer and shouting at us to open the door. "We hid ourselves under the bed as we had no weapons to defend ourselves," said Gwenzi. When the thugs gained entry they pointed guns at the Gwenzi brothers and demanded money. "We gave them all we had, about R800. We pleaded for our lives. They would not listen, they just called us dogs who deserved to die," said Gwenzi. He said he, Noah (27), Martius (34), Edmond (20) and Mogoni (24) were instructed to pile up on one bed, were tied together and covered in a blanket doused with petrol and were set alight. After freeing himself and Mogoni, Gwenzi tried to summon help. "The neighbours arrived too late to rescue my other brothers. Mogoni was rushed to Odi hospital." The community of Winterveldt is speculating that, apart from robbery, the incident was motivated by xenophobia as the victims were all immigrants from Zimbabwe. Police spokesperson Inspector Baby Tselapedi confirmed the incident. P olice had launched a manhunt for the suspects. Gwenzi and his relatives were on Friday trying to raise money to ferry his brothers' remains to Zimbabwe for a proper burial.