'I would give anything for just one day': slain 5-year-old Ditebogo laid to rest in Soshanguve

17 May 2024 - 15:58
By Shonisani Tshikalange
The funeral of 5-year-old Ditebogo Junior Phalane was held on Friday in Soshanguve after he was fatally shot at the weekend during the hijacking of his father outside their home in block UU.
Image: ANTONIO MUCHAVE The funeral of 5-year-old Ditebogo Junior Phalane was held on Friday in Soshanguve after he was fatally shot at the weekend during the hijacking of his father outside their home in block UU.

“I wasn't ready to say goodbye, I'd give anything for just one day,” the parents of the five-year-old Soshanguve boy tragically shot during the hijacking of his father's car said in a letter read on their behalf at his funeral service on Friday.

Ditebogo Junior Phalane's father Ditebogo and his wife Boitumelo Kobe Phalane wept at his funeral as they paid their last respects.

Mourners filled the Kopanong Hall in Soshanguve as they sang and comforted the bereaved family.

Those in attendance included political leaders such as the EFF's Mbuyiseni Ndlozi, the DA's Solly Msimanga, police minister Bheki Cele and public figures including DJ and TV personality Lamiez Holworthy and her husband, rapper Khuli Chana.

In the front row, Ditebogo's family sat in the middle with visibly pained faces.

His father, clutched by his wife, covered his face with his T-shirt as they wept.

In front of them, their son's small casket stood covered in a colourful blanket with photos of him.

Ditebogo Junior's newly-born sister slept in her grandmother's arms while his brother sat in the arms of a relative.

On the other side, in the front row, children from Ditebogo's school, Nurtured Mindz Academy, sat on their little chairs.

As the funeral proceedings got under way, those arrested in connection with his murder were appearing in various courts in Pretoria.

“It's very difficult to accept that I will never see you again. It's like I can turn back the hands of time and give you a hug and a kiss one last time,” Ditebogo's parents stated in a letter read on their behalf.

“My child you were planning to buy yourself a scooter on your birthday. I have just learnt to grieve one day at a time, with a heartache, that has become a part of me. 'Juju' I never thought that one day I would bury you, I was expecting you to bury me, not the other way around. My child, you were supposed to graduate this year, I am sorry they took that opportunity so that you cannot rejoice and buy yourself a scooter,” the letter read.

The director of Nurtured Mindz Academy, Captain Mankidi, said Ditebogo loved to smile.

While delivering her tribute, Ditebogo's schoolmates stood around his small casket holding glowing candles and a white cloth.

“We started in 2014 and ever since we started we have been making history, however, the history we are making today was never part of the plan,” she said.

Mankidi said Killer Kau was Ditebogo's favourite artist.

“In 2024, Junior was in our exit planet, the majestic Mercury. We knew that this was his exit year but we did not expect this exit. Junior lived, he explored, created memory,” she said.

Kobe couldn't contain her tears as her son's school mates said their goodbyes with speeches, poems and songs.

“This was supposed to be our year as seniors, sadly I have to send you to a place no-one can see. Good night my friend, rest in God's arms. You will always live long in my heart,” said one of Ditebogo's schoolmates.

A family representative, Gift Makoti, called on the community to work with the police in fighting crime.

“This young boy was robbed of his whole life ahead of him because of crime. What makes me sad is that this picture here will never grow old, the picture that the parents have of this boy will always look like that.

“You can only imagine what these two people are going through. What is happening here should not be happening — a child's lifespan cannot be cut at five years old. Please, if we are going to have a system that works, we have to work with the police,” he said.