Community believe man linked to one of two slain girls might be involved in their killings
While a suspect is yet to be arrested in connection with the murder of two Katlehong girls whose bodies were found dumped in a veld‚ some community members believe a man linked to one of the girls could be involved in the killings.
"What is happening behind closed doors‚ abuse suffered by women and children in their homes‚ has resulted in this‚" said a pastor‚ preaching at the site where the girls’ bodies were found on Tuesday.
"Why are women silent? Why are they not shouting for help?" the pastor enquired to "amens" from the crowd of around 200 community members gathered at the site in the East Rand township.
"Women are staying in bad relationships so they can receive food for them and their children. Why are they not shouting for help?" he added.
The community members on Thursday lit candles‚ sang and prayed that the culprit would be arrested.
White palisade palings ripped from the ground by the angry locals lay strewn across the veld where the bodies were found. On one end of the veld‚ a black plastic bag lay open with debris‚ girls’ underwear‚ shoes and other old clothing scattered around. A few metres from there‚ a group of men with hammers broke the cement on the palisade palings‚ wanting to extract the metal inside.
Meanwhile‚ the local councillor‚ Desmond Sabi‚ broke down as he addressed the crowds.
"Earlier I thanked the women of this community - it was because it is women who gathered and found these children. What are we as men doing when our children are killed like this?" he cried.
Just a short distance away‚ Nonhlanhla Xaba‚ the mother of one of the deceased girls sat in her home‚ her shoulders draped in a blanket with a doek wrapped around her head.
Her daughter Nonkululeko Xaba was found dead and wrapped in a duvet on Tuesday. Her body had been badly bruised.
Alongside her body was that of her friend‚ Nompumelelo Mhlongo‚ whose joints had been broken as she was stuffed into a tog bag.
"My daughter is chubby. He probably failed to fold her into the bag. That is why he carried her in the duvet instead‚” said Xaba‚ who throughout the conversation referred to her daughter in the present tense‚ seemingly unconvinced of her passing.
Her home was a hive of activity with women‚ all dressed in skirts and their heads covered‚ busy in the kitchen.
A bad smell hung in their air as one of the women cleaned a disconnected fridge.
Xaba said the area had not had electricity in days and some of the food had since gone bad.
Besides destroying their food‚ the power cuts had made it difficult to conduct a search for her daughter and her friend as she said it was pitch black by 7pm when they had begun their search.
"On Sunday when she went missing‚ I actually went to the veld where she was later found but was stopped by my nieces.
"They said 'are you not scared to go in there?' and I told them I wasn't - my child was missing. There's nothing I can do."
They convinced her to turn back from the veld which had been zoned off with the white palisade fencing and she did.
Two days later‚ the bodies of her daughter and her missing friend were found there.
But Xaba is confident her child wasn't there on Sunday when she went searching for her.
"She went missing on Sunday. It rained most of the day on Monday. But the duvet she was found wrapped in on Tuesday wasn't damp which means she was probably dumped there a few hours before they were found‚" she said.
"That place is just a bad place. It's not the first time dead people are found there. People do whatever they do and then dump their victims there.
"I don't want to lie. I am angry and hurt. I want to know what kind of monster would do this to a child‚" she said‚ her breathing becoming heavier as she asked for a glass of water.
Scores of community members later gathered at her house to deliver prayers.
Asked whether they would be going to the home of the other girl‚ two community members said they wouldn't.
"The shack is locked and last we heard‚ she had left with the police‚" said one woman in the crowd.
Xaba was asked whether she and the mother of Nompumelelo Mhlongo‚ the other little girl who was killed‚ were sharing in their grief.
"The (other) mother wasn't showing any emotions on Sunday when we went searching. On Monday‚ she woke up and went to work so I cannot say how she is feeling‚" said Xaba.
"I cannot speak for her‚" she added.
The families are yet to meet and speak.
"I never knew this family or the friend of hers. I think they are new tenants in this place but I know nothing about them."
Asked whether she had any photographs of her daughter that she could share‚ Xaba gave TimesLIVE a missing person flyer which they had made when they were searching for her.
"Take this. It won't work anymore anyway‚" she said.
Meanwhile‚ Captain Mavela Masondo refused to comment on speculation that the suspect behind the crime could have been known to Mhlongo or that the mother had been taken away by police.
"There are no arrests at the moment. In fact the mother and both families are assisting us in the investigation‚" he told TimesLIVE.