Heartbreaking scenes unfolded in Koster, the North West farming town of Reagile, South Africa as the coffins of Mojaki Elizabeth Mwale, 74, Christina Sepinki Mwale, 36, Abram Mwale 15, Samantha Mwale, 12, Refilwe Mwale 10, Ofentse Mwale 8 and Precious Mwale, 3, were lowered into their graves in a mass funeral on Tuesday, March 15.
The seven victims were burnt to death when the jilted lover poured petrol in the shack which his ex shared with other members of her family and set it on fire on Monday, March 8. The 49-year-old suspect who is in police custody committed the heinous act after his girlfriend, Mammy Mwale, the mother of three of the victims, ended their relationship.
A family member Emily Mwale and an eyewitness said the man burst into the house with a bottle full of petrol and started pouring them on her and Mammy Mwale.
Neighbours and residents said the couple's relationship had been rocky for the past year, and that the suspect had made threats that he would kill her. The man's mother condemned the wicked act and said the law must punish him.
"He has done a horrible thing, he loved Mammy too much. I do not like what he has done, he told me that he was going to kill everyone in that family. I want the law to punish him"
The North West police department spokesman, Leonard Hlathi who confirmed the tragic incident said the suspect has been charged with seven counts of murder, as well as arson.
Mourners sat under a giant white tent singing hymns. African National Congress (ANC) Women League members dressed in their signature green and black uniform held flowers while looking at the seven coffins lined up in front of them.
Family spokesman Jackie Segakweng said the family was still in shock by the death of the seven family members.
"It is a shock to us. This is a technical knock-out. It is a whitewash…" he said.
Segakweng said he hoped the government would take drastic action to prevent further such deaths. "We cannot afford to see these deaths day and night."
Lerato Mekgwe, circuit manager in Kgetleng, told mourners that women must break the silence of abuse. Mekgwe said she was once in an abusive relationship and left only after her husband shot and wounded her.
"The signs were there but, I ignored them, I was blinded by love. When my children told me my husband does not love them, I ignored them until he shot me. I took a decision that I am not staying in this relationship. I got out of the relationship. Today I am a cripple because of the abusive relationship."
Kgetlengrivier municipality mayor Kim Medupe called on residents to be calm and allow the law to take its course.
"We are not going to judge until the justice system runs its course," she said.
She described the murders as brutal and senseless. She told mourners a house would be built for the remaining members of the family.
The chairman of Kgalagatsane Primary School governing body, Dikgang Mokgosi, said they were shocked by the murders. He appealed to young women not to remain in relationships where they were being abused.
"The person who did this will be judged and punished. Make sure you fall in love with the right person, who will not kill you." he said.
Mourners battled to hide their emotions as they sang religious songs. Family members and some of the mourners sobbed when Kgalagatsane Primary School choir sang a hymn to bid farewell to four of their former school mates.
Abram, Ofentse and Refilwe were Mammy's children. Samantha and Precious were her sister's daughter. Grandmother Elizabeth Mwale together with her daughter Christina also died in the fire.