10-year-old Masego was 'a lovely, beautiful, funny girl'
The mother of 10-year-old Masego Kgomo, abducted on New Year's Eve and whose body was found at the weekend, is battling to come to terms with her loss.
After a search by hundreds of police officers and neighbours from the northern Pretoria township of Soshanguve, Masego's mother, Kate Kgomo, had to try to identify her daughter's decomposing body in a government mortuary.
As she sat in bed under a blanket, holding on to one of her daughter's dolls, Kgomo told The Times: "It's very painful but I thank God that we can see where the bones of my child are. I just pray that she will now rest in peace."
As she wiped back tears with a tissue, family friends comforted her.
Masego's body was found early on Saturday morning after a nine-day search.
"We entered 2010 with tears," said her aunt, Zodwa Sibanda.
The little girl's body was found in bushes near the Mabopane railway station, north-west of Pretoria.
Her mother and her father, Joseph Kgomo, went to the mortuary on Saturday to identify the body.
But Masego - described by her relatives as a lovely, beautiful and funny girl - was almost unrecognisable.
Police spokesman Captain Solly Marindi said: "We have to do a DNA test because we don't really know if it is Masego, but the similarity is there."
Another of Masego's aunts, Maria Mtombeni, reflected on the past week: "Everyday that we searched, we thought we'd find her alive, but it was not like that," she said.
Rows of plastic chairs were arranged around the family home and in the driveway for relatives and friends to use when they came to pay their condolences.
Masego's elder sister, Kagiso, 22, stirred a cup of sugared water for her mother as her son, Karabetswe, clutched her trousers.
"I'm afraid," she said. "What if something [like this] happens to my child?"
Masego used to look after her young nephew when she got home from school while Kagiso was still at work.
Her father, Joseph, is a pastor at the St Michael's Apostolic Church, in Soshanguve, where her funeral will take place on Saturday.
Gauteng police spokeswoman Captain Julia Classen said three suspects - aged 15, 19 and 25 - who have been arrested in connection with Masego's disappearance will appear in the Soshanguve Magistrate's Court tomorrow.
"The case is still at a very sensitive stage," she said. "We are waiting for the autopsy report to determine what more charges to add."