‘I want nothing to do with him –my kids are dead because of him’

Before killing three of his own children this week by poisoning their energy drinks, the 40-year-old father of five had allegedly been questioning the paternity of one of his three deceased children.

Speaking to Sunday World yesterday, the 33-year-old mother of the deceased Ntswaki Khoabane, revealed that her husband, Veli Ngcongwane, last week questioned her about the paternity of one of the children.

Sitting on a mattress as per African custom, Khoabane was still numb yesterday when this newspaper visited the family. She said it shattered her to think of how her children’s lives were cut short by their own father.

The tragic incident took place on Thursday morning in Ratanda township outside Heidelberg at Lesedi local municipality.

Ngcongwane was taken to hospital after he allegedly tried to commit suicide by cutting himself with a broken bottle and razor. He is under police guard at the hospital where he is said to be stable.

“I am still trying to understand this whole thing on how Veli could have done such a cruel thing to his children. We have been together for the past 17 years and he was a lovely person who loved his kids.

“Last week he questioned me about the paternity of one of my kids after one of our children said that he was told by friends that his father was staying somewhere in the farms. He asked me to come clean and I told him that there was nothing of the sort as all these kids were his and he had never doubted them from the beginning,” she said.

Khoabane said her husband had never been a violent person. The only time he became problematic was when he drank too much.

“He was hands on, making sure that he was providing for his family and working hard to make sure that we sleep with full stomachs and also have a roof over our heads. But I don’t want anything to do with him anymore. I don’t have my kids
anymore because of his actions,” said Khoabane.

In the days leading up to the murders, Ngcongwane is said to have not gone to work for four days. He works as an electrician at a local electrical company. “I asked him to explain why he was not going to work, and he told me that he was tired,” she said.

“I never suspected anything because he was always around our kids. I thought the paternity issue was not a big deal. Paternity test could have been done if he had wanted to do it … it was not for him to kill our children under false pretences that he was giving them an energy drink, while he knew he had laced it with poison,” she said.

Khoabane, who works at a local school as a cook, said that on that fateful Thursday, she had asked her husband to walk her to work. He accompanied her part of the way but then turned back, saying he needed to help the kids prepare for school. “I had no knowledge of his intentions. Our son who is 13, Katleho, came to me at the school and said that he was feeling hot and dizzy. I asked him what the problem was before we rushed him to one of the offices.

“While trying to help him, my other son, Lehlohonolo, was also brought into the room as he also complained about stomach cramps and feeling hot. We asked them if there’s anything they could have eaten and they both said that Veli had given them an energy drink while they were at home,” she said.

Khoabane said that she then received a call from another primary school, alerting her that her six-year-old son, Teboho, was vomiting and complaining that he was dizzy.

“Lehlohonolo and Katleho died at the school, while Teboho died at the clinic. My other child, Neo, who is 11 years old, is in hospital fighting for his life. Thato, who is eight years old, is the only child who refused to drink that energy drink as he told Veli that he needed not to drink anything.

“I never thought that one day I will be sitting here, mourning my children who were killed by their father. This is truly sad and traumatic as I had expected a lot from these children as they were growing up in a loving family,” said Khoabane, failing to hold back tears.

Ngcongwane’s friend, who asked not to be named, said he is still traumatised by what his friend did. “I need him to explain his actions as I knew how he loved these kids. He told me about the paternity matter, but I advised him that he could not let go of the kids after he had raised them for years as a loving father.”

Khoabane’s mother, Maria, said that Ngcongwane was always a hands on father and loved his kids. “I asked Veli why he had done this and he said to me that it was a mistake. This is tragic and I feel that he betrayed our trust that we had on him,” said Maria.

Selina Ngcongwane, who raised Ngcongwane as a child, said that she was shocked and confused by what had happened. “Veli never raised any issues with us regarding his problems. We knew him and his wife as a lovely couple raising their kids, but this has shocked me. He needs to explain himself on why he had done such a horrible thing. This is despicable and condemned,” said Selina.

All the children will be buried on Saturday.

Ntswaki Khoabane (33) the mother of three children who died after they were allegedly poisoned by their father is comforted by relatives as she prepares to bury her kids. / Bongani Mdakane


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