Eba Kandovazu

A PASTOR from Nkurenkuru in the Kavango West region briefly appeared in the Kahenge Magistrate’s Court today charged alongside his assistant.

The Pastor, identified as Hamutenya Engelberth (25), and Elia Ihemba (36), were apprehended and charged with three counts of murder and one attempted murder count, following the death of three family members who died on Tuesday evening after the suspects allegedly administered a concoction of methylated spirit, olive oil, salt and vinegar through the rectum. A fourth family member, Rosa Ndumba (39), is currently receiving medical attention. The concoction was administered on Tuesday afternoon.

According to Kavango West Regional Crime Coordinator, Commissioner Abner Agas, the deceased, Evaristus Ndumba (37), Roberta Ndumba (45) and Hilka Simbaranda (21) were all sick when they approached the pastor for assistance. It is unclear at this point what the ailments were. The suspects were denied bail when they appeared before Magistrate Barry Mufana, due to the seriousness of the offense and public interest.

The state is represented by Prosecutor Geoffrey Shivolo. Agas stated that the duo was also remanded in custody for their own safety. According to him, public members have been infuriated by their actions and that there is a planned demonstration against Ihemba and Engelberth, whose case has been postponed to 12 January, 2022, for further police investigations while both of them remanded in custody.

According to Agas forensics has as to conduct post-mortems, adding that the victims paid money to be treated by the pastor. Possible money laundering charges might be added to the charge sheet. “We are still investigating. So far we have discovered that an amount of N$ 4000 was paid to the suspects by the victims. We are investigating to determine whether or not these men are also traditional healers. They claim to be running a church but at the same time they are charging people for treatment,” Agas states.

He also explains that when the police arrived at the church premises, 25 more people were found camping there, seeking treatment from Engelberth.

“It is quite unfortunate. We found a seriously sick elderly woman there. She was lying in a tent in the sun, shivering and could not stand on her own. We had to call an ambulance to transport her to the hospital for urgent medical attention. I just want to caution the public to not fall victim to these new churches. Do not be manipulated and misled into paying your money. Stick to your original churches were you were baptized and confirmed,”Agas stresses.