Swaziland: Gunman kills bishop in front of congregation

by Sibongile Sukati

A Zionist bishop was on Saturday night shot dead in front of his church members, including his children, by an unknown gunman who was in turn shot dead by a member of the congregation.

MAKHONZA: Bishop Manyolo Leonard Dlamini of Ekuphileni Zionist Church and over 20 members of his congregation was on his way to a night vigil at a homestead almost 1 km from his own house when two men, one armed with a gun and the other a large stick, ordered the procession to stop where they were.

“It was around 10pm when the men appeared from the bushes one was tall and the other short and they went straight to my father. The one with a gun shot at the ground right in front of my father’s feet and ordered him to stop,” Thuli Dlamini the deceased’s eldest daughter related.

The gunman then fired a shot into the air and ordered everyone to lie down.

“The one with the gun then went back to my father, placed the gun between my father’s shoulders and shot him three times,” a distraught Thuli related.

She said that after the man had fired the third shot one member of the congregation a Mr Mthethwa pounced on the gunman and struggled with him for the gun and at that point Mthethwa was grazed by a gun shot slightly above his eye.

“Mthethwa then called to his wife for help. She started throwing stones at the gunman and in the process the gun fell out of his hands and Mthethwa picked it up and shot the gunman twice in the head,” she said.

Mthethwa who is of South African origin is said to have returned home in Mbalenhle (South Africa). The gunman’s accomplice was said to have fled by then.

While the shooting was going on some other members of the congregation managed to run away and raise an alarm in nearby homesteads.

Another member of the congregation then went to a Nene homestead where the man of the house offered his car and they went to Embangweni barracks.

“I also went to search for my father’s mobile phone and I called the police,” she said.

The bishop who died at the age of 41 leaves behind a wife and seven children, five of which are school going and the youngest being a year and a half. He was the family’s breadwinner and worked in Natal, Newcastle as a healer.

A source that wished to remain anonymous stated that although he could not say why the bishop was killed he believed that it had to do with a fight between the deceased and his elder brother in 1999 over leadership of the church.

“The brothers even split churches in 1999 with each taking his own congregation, but I would like to believe that that conflict had long been solved,” he said.