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Mourners gather to pray and seek justice for mutilated student

14 June 2019 - 07:19 By Nonkululeko Njilo
More than 100 people gathered at Ferdi Meyer Hall in Welkom on Thursday to attend a night vigil for slain student Naledi Lethoba.
More than 100 people gathered at Ferdi Meyer Hall in Welkom on Thursday to attend a night vigil for slain student Naledi Lethoba.
Image: Emil Bosch

More than 100 people gathered in 5°C temperatures on Thursday to attend an all-night vigil to honour brutally murdered Naledi Lethoba.

Lethoba, 21, was found dead in an open field last month in Welkom. Her breasts had been cut off. A knife protruded from her neck. There were burns on her body and face.

Beautiful, forever smiling and well mannered were some of the words used to describe the slain Goldsfield TVET College student during the prayer session.   

Men, women and children with blankets and candles prayed in the Ferdi Meyer Hall ahead of a formal bail application on Friday of 19-year-old student Obed Leshoro, who was arrested in connection with the murder. 

The badly mutilated and burnt body of 21-year-old Naledi Lethoba was found on May 29 2019 on an open field in Welkom last month. The community has expressed its shock and outrage at her brutal murder.

Leshoro was handed over to police by his parents a few days after the body was discovered.

Lethoba’s childhood friend, Seipati Mbele, said she was broken and wanted a harsh sentence to be handed down by the courts.

“I am really hurt. Yes, a suspect was arrested, but that won’t bring her back. The person who did this must rot in jail,” she said.  

Mbele recalled the last conversation she had with Lethoba, a day before she went missing.

“I texted her and said, 'Yhoo  friend, it's like you don’t care about me anymore', and she asked why I thought so.

"I said because our conversations are no longer the same and you seem distant, and she replied that I must not think of such things, we will forever be friends."

Mbele said she regretted not telling Lethoba how much she loved her.

Spokesperson for the ANC Women’s League in the province, Masentle Twala, said the community was still reeling after Lethoba’s death. 

“We’re really affected by the brutal murder of Naledi Lethoba, which is why we decided to gather here today, for us to pray, for us to ask God what have we done as women for us to be murdered like this,” she said. 

Twala said she was confident that God would hear the cries of victims of gender-based violence.   

“The request is for this to end ... God will hear us,” added Twala.

A march to the court was scheduled to take place ahead of Leshoro’s appearance.