Tuesday, August 31, 2010
Girl's body dumped after raped and tortured
31 August 2010, 08:42
By Angelique Serrao
She lay in the soft soil for a night, wrapped in a dirty duvet, among plastic bags and decaying rats.
While her body lay just two streets away from where she lived, her parents and community members searched for her in mounting desperation.
Nine-year-old Banele Precious Khumalo was raped and killed on Thursday, allegedly by a neighbour. She had been handcuffed, cut and burnt before her body was wrapped in a duvet and dumped in a field in Phumula Extension 21, near Spruitview.
The Leondale Primary School pupil was home on Thursday because of the strike. Her father Bongani Khumalo said she went to the shop to buy sweetsaround 1pm.
Bongani said the family did not worry at first when she did not return because she often played at the neighbours' houses.
When she hadn't returned by 5pm, her two older brothers went looking for her. When they couldn't find her, the family knew something was wrong.
"I went to the police station at Vosloorus, but they told me Phumula falls under the Alberton police station and I must go there," Bongani said. He then phoned the Alberton police station.
"We didn't know it then, but she had already been murdered. They should have helped us look for her and moved the docket over later," the angry father said. "You need to see the body to see what this man did to my child."
Alberton police came to the family's house that night, and residents gathered to look for the little girl.
A neighbour, Paul Thatho, who is also a member of the local community policing forum, heard about the missing child on Friday morning. He set off with other residents to see if he could find her.
His daughter Lerato said she had been at the house of the 36-year-old suspect the afternoon prior to the girl's murder and said he had been acting strangely.
"He opened his bedroom door with a screwdriver in his hand," Lerato said. "I also saw bloodstains by the bottom of his fridge, but I didn't know then the child was missing."
He was shivering uncontrollably and asked her to leave because he needed to sleep.
At 2pm on Friday, a small child found the bloodstained duvet with Banele's body wrapped inside it.
The suspect was at the scene, said Lerato, and she noticed then that his pants had bloodstains on them and his face was scratched.
Thatho said residents then went to the suspect's house. They found bloodstains on the floor, inside a wheelbarrow and on an axe.
Captain George Manaka from the Alberton police station said police had come to the man's rescue because community members wanted to kill him. He had been arrested but had not appeared in court yet as police were still investigating.
Community members burnt down the suspect's house after his arrest.
Education MEC Barbara Creecy and Ekurhuleni ANC councillors visited the family yesterday. Creecy said the family were grief-stricken and the department was organising counselling for them.
"The mother is speechless with grief. I understand they went to the mortuary today and saw that the child had been tortured. We will start counselling this afternoon," she said.
A memorial service will be held at Leondale Primary School on Thursday morning.
Local councillor Bennet Nikani said the area where the child had been buried was being cleared, but they would leave the mound where her body was found so that the family could perform a cleansing ceremony.
He wanted to propose to the council that the area be turned into a community park, named after Banele.
Meanwhile Banele's mother Thandiwe sleeps with a picture of her "sweet girl" by her bedside. "I just feel upset, she was such a happy child. With the way we found her, no clothes, raped, handcuffed? I hope they give him a life sentence."
This article was originally published on page 2 of The Star on August 31, 2010
Comments by Sonny
Was our Constitution 'really' written to protect these "Barbarians?"