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MBABANE – No one seems to be connecting the dots on what happened to the leader of a Zion church, who died mysteriously with his wife and child at Fonteyn.

This follows that when the three family members were discovered dead, there was a basin, spoons and a concoction (indayela) which was boiling in a pot on a gas stove. The deceased family members are Bongani and Nokuthula Nzima, who were husband and wife, with their 12-year-old daughter Tiyandza, who was a pupil at St Francis Primary School. Bongani was a church leader who had recently established a church branch at Mdzangwini, where he also had a home, and was about to be ordained.


Narrating the events that unfolded, Sabelo Mabaso, a helper who assisted the family with gardening and maintenance and was first on the scene, said they were supposed to meet with the Nzima family at church. Mabaso stated that the church leader (Bongani) would normally cook the concoction (indayela), which was a mixture of different brands of tea, incense, milk and other additives. “On the day the incident happened last Friday, he was supposed to mix the concoction and bring it to church to share with other members, as usual,” said Mabaso. He stated that every Friday, they would pray at the church or have choir practice. Mabaso said though he would usually go to the Nzima homestead every morning, on the fateful Friday, he had not.

He said at around 6pm on the same day, when he was at home preparing for church, another church member, Bheki Maziya, arrived and reported that Bongani had called, looking for him and stated that their younger daughter (Tiyandza) was sick. Mabaso said his mobile phone was not available on the MTN network as he had not charged it, which is why the church leader could not reach him, resulting in him leaving a message with Maziya. “While speaking to Maziya, I asked if the Nzima family would not come to church as their child was sick and he responded to the negative.” Mabaso said he then hoped that they would meet the family in church, but they did not show up. He stated that other church members had already arrived. This, he said, shocked him because Bongani and his family were usually the first to arrive at church.

According to Mabaso, they had made a fire in church and sat there for over 20 minutes when Maziya came running and told him that the church leader had once again called looking for him and that he must answer the phone. Mabaso said Maziya’s mobile phone also went off as the battery had died when he came to deliver the message. “We borrowed a phone from one of the church members, and we called the leader’s cellphone number but there was no response.” According to Mabaso, he then called the leader’s wife and she also did not respond. He stated that he then requested the church members to go with him to the homestead to ascertain if the Nzima family was fine because they reported that their child was sick. Mabaso said some of the members said they were returning to their respective homes to sleep, while two boys, his wife and another church member, came along with him.

He said he was driving in front, ahead of the women and arrived at the homestead where he knocked, without a response. Mabaso said he then went straight to Bongani’s bedroom and knocked but there was still no response, then he went to their elder son’s room and knocked. When there was still no response, they eventually opened the door.  He said when they were inside, they were met by an unusual smell and steam and when they looked around, they saw the couple wearing their church gowns, hugging each other, while seated on a couch. “The church leader’s hand was hugging his wife and his head was facing down.” Mabaso said the wife looked like she would speak and was seated upright. He said he shouted and told the couple that their son was writhing in pain and they should respond to him but there was no response. “I immediately grabbed their son and placed him towards the door and realised that their daughter was also lying on the floor motionless,” Mabaso narrated.


He said it did not register in his mind that the couple was dead, but thought the leader was praying for his wife. He said he then went closer and tried to hold them but they fell to the floor.
“This really shocked me and luckily enough, the women outside were also in the house by then and told me that we should take them outside.” Mabaso said they screamed for help and one of the neighbours, who had a kombi, responded and they requested that he took them to hospital. He said the neighbour declined to take the motionless bodies but only took the young man who was still breathing. Mabaso said they took the boy to hospital, while he remained behind with his wife. He said another car belonging to another neighbour then arrived and he requested that they take the others to hospital. However, he said along the way they met the police, who told them to continue taking them to hospital. He said they requested that he remained behind to assist them at the scene of the incident.