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Four initiates die, beaten in Botshabelo, Free State.

Excerpt from Sowetan:

his was revealed when the case of four men accused of running an illegal initiation school, where the deaths took place, was postponed in the Botshabelo Magistrate’s Court yesterday.

State prosecutor Nomsa Ngwata asked the court to postpone the matter because more suspects were expected to be arrested.

“I ask for a postponement of the case because other suspects are expected to be arrested and the police also need to verify the addresses of the accused,” Ngwata said.

Daniel Thabatau, 29, his brother Lehlohonolo Thabatau, 26, Mohau Motumi, 24 and Sesing Chapi, 21, are facing four charges of murder and of assault.

Sibongile Tloubatla, the lawyer representing Thabatau and Lehlohonolo, was unhappy about the postponement. She argued that she was ready to proceed with the formal bail application because her clients were entitled to a speedy trial.

Pono Setshedi, who represented Motumi and Chapi, said: “My clients have been in custody for two weeks now and I believe their rights have been infringed. They have the right to apply for and be granted bail.”

Thabatau, Lehlohonolo, Motumi and Chapi allegedly killed initiates Morena Potsane, 17, Mthandazo Kuzwayo, 19, Itumeleng Tshiane, 19, and Thembekile Motselebane, 18, two weeks ago.

The deceased were allegedly assaulted and their buttocks burnt with hot iron rods.

Thabatau is alleged to have been the leader of the initiation school, while Lehlohonolo, Motumi and Chapi were tutors.

Police were alerted about the deaths after one of the initiates died in hospital from severe injuries.

Police found 30 initiates and three bodies at the initiation school. Eleven initiates with severe injuries had to be taken to hospital.

By Hank Nuwer

Journalist Hank Nuwer is the Alaska author of Hazing: Destroying Young Lives; Broken Pledges: The Deadly Rite of Hazing, High School Hazing, Wrongs of Passage and The Hazing Reader. In April of 2024, the Alaska Press Club awarded him first place in the Best Columnist division and Best Humorist, second place.

He has written articles or columns on hazing for the Sunday Times of India, Toronto Globe & Mail, Harper's Magazine, Orlando Sentinel, The Chronicle of Higher Education and the New York Times Sunday Magazine. His current book is Hazing: Destroying Young Lives from Indiana University Press. He is married to Malgorzata Wroblewska Nuwer of Warsaw, Poland and Fairbanks, Alaska. Nuwer is a former columnist for the Greenville (Ohio)Early Bird and former managing editor of the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner in Alaska.
Nuwer was named the Ohio Society of Professional Journalists columnist of the year in 2021 for his “After Darke” column in the Early Bird. He also won third place for the column in 2022 from the Indiana chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists. He and his wife Gosia, recently of Union City, Ind., have owned 20 acres in Alaska for many years. “The move is a sort-of coming home for us,” said Nuwer. As a journalist, he’s written about the Alaskan Iditarod sled-dog race and other Alaska topics. Read his musings in his blog at Real Alaska Daily--http://realalaskadaily.com and in his weekly column "Far from Randolph" in the Winchester Star-Gazette of Randolph County, Indiana.

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