The mutilated body of a 78-year-old woman, with her nose and an ear hacked off, was discovered inside her home in KwaZulu-Natal, a coastal South African province.

The police said the victim, identified as Henrietta Nzimande, also had a deep head wound. People living in the area reportedly believed the woman had been practicing witchcraft and bewitching people in her community, according to IOL News. According to reports Monday, the corpse was discovered by her daughter, Nokuthula Nzimande.

The victim's daughter told the police her mother preferred to live alone and kept to herself. She also said the only time Henrietta left the home was to collect her pension.

The mother and daughter allegedly had a hostile relationship. But, despite this, Nokuthula often visited Henrietta to check up on her. On the day Nokuthula found her mother dead, she had entered the house, and spotted blood on the floor. She then saw her mother's body in the passage of their home. It was not clear when the body was discovered.

Nokuthula also told the police nothing was missing from their home. Law enforcement agencies launched an investigation into the horrific killing of the woman. They reportedly suspect an occult link in the case after talking to the victim's daughter.

"These types of crimes in our province show that we have a lot of people who have lost their moral compass," senior officer Nonhlanhla Khoza told local media. “There are vicious criminals that continue to murder our senior citizens, and rob them of their belongings, including old-age grants.

“Our people need to learn that if an old person resides alone, it doesn't mean that he or she is involved in witchcraft. We have many of our senior citizens who prefer to be alone in their homes or are living by themselves because their relatives are working far away," she added.

Khoza urged the community not to “turn a blind eye if you see an old person staying alone,” Times Live reported.

“Leaving an old person alone at home makes them very vulnerable, hence we always encourage our communities to ensure they inform us of such cases, so we can take them to safe places where they will receive 24-hour care. We have a lot of old age homes and they are made to protect our elderly people. We urge our communities to make use of these facilities.”

crime scene
Representational image Getty Images/Jonathan Alcorn