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Family of autistic girl whose body was found in river mystified how she got out of yard

07 May 2018 - 14:30 By Naledi Shange
Crime scene police tape.
Crime scene police tape.
Image: Supplied

The family of a 10-year-old autistic girl whose body was found floating in the Moretele River in Mamelodi‚ Pretoria‚ at the weekend are still confused over how she got out of her home.

“Katli would never leave the house alone‚” said her uncle‚ Thabiso Storom‚ on Monday.

“There was always a minder around her because as part of the autism‚ she did not like physical contact from strangers. She did not have any friends‚” he added.

The Mamelodi house that Katlego Joja went missing from is also a crèche.

“The gate has two latches and they are pretty high up‚ making it difficult for children to reach it‚” said Storom.

“The gate was never opened so she didn’t leave through the gate‚” he said.

The house has a high fence around it but Storom says Katlego had a fear of heights and would have never jumped over the fence.

“She could have been lifted up but she wouldn’t climb over it. We have a jungle gym and she never uses it because she is afraid of being high up. Even when it comes to stairs‚ she was extremely afraid of heights‚” Storom said.

The family had spent four days searching for Katlego until her body was found on Sunday.

Foul play had not been ruled out.

“At the moment‚ the autopsy is still ongoing. We will have the results later today [on Monday]‚” he said.

Storom said he had gone to the river bank where Katlego was found and he noted that the river bank had a slope to it.

He however‚ had not received any solid answers from police of whether she had simply fallen into the river.

“When I asked the police‚ they said they could not comment at the time. They needed to await the post-mortem results‚” Storom said.

The family still has the tough task of telling Katlego’s 13-year-old brother that she has died.

“We are going to relay the message to him today. He was very close to his sister and he was extremely protective of her‚” said Storom.

The family had told him last week that his sister was missing and as the search ensued‚ he was taken to relatives in Randburg.

“He has no cellphone on him so we know that he is not aware of it but it will be difficult. He really looked after her. He knows that she is missing. We told him that everyone is trying to make sure that she will come home‚” Storom said.