Missing girl, 5, found dead with her ‘eyes gouged out’

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June 5, 2017
Missing girl, 5, found dead with her ‘eyes gouged out’

FOUND DEAD: Minentle Lekhakha, 5. CREDIT: Supplied

Strand residents searching for missing five-year-old Minentle Lekhakha on Sunday made the grim discovery of her lifeless body – her eyes reportedly gouged out.

She is the fourth child found murdered in four weeks, as the country grapples with violence against women and children.

On May 13, three-year-old Courtney Pieters was found in a shallow grave after she went missing on May 4 in Elsies River, three days after the body of four-year-old Iyapha Yamile was found stuffed in a plastic bag on May 1 in Khayelitsha. Five days later, 25-year-old Ntuthuzelo Mayekiso was arrested for the murder of fourteen-month-old Lindokuhle Kota in Khayelitsha.

Minentle is also the second person found in a week with their eyes gouged out.

Unathi Madotyeni, 33, was found dead in Zone 26, Langa, after she was last seen out with friends last Sunday. Her family fears she may have been raped before her eyes were gouged out.

Minentle, a Grade R pupil at ACJ Phakade Primary School in Nomzamo, Strand, was found on Sunday, just two days after Child Protection Week ended.

She went missing on Saturday, according to her grandmother, Thelma Bomela.

“She went missing on Saturday at around 2pm. When I come back from work she normally waited for me because she knew I would bring something for her from work,” explains Thelma.

‘‘So I arrived from work, and waited for her to come to me like she normally does, but she did not. I asked other children, but no one knew where she was.”

“That is when I started searching for her. After going to all the places she normally plays with friends I could not find her, so I went to the police station to report her missing,” she said.

On Sunday night police officers were at the scene under a bridge in Broadway Soek Street, Nomzamo, conducting forensic investigations. They have appealed for anyone with information to come forward.

On Sunday,  grandmother Thelma broke down when received word of the discovery of the body, reports the Cape Times.

She was hopeful her grandchild would be found alive, she had detailed how the family and community had searched for Minentle.

The area’s ward councillor, Sithembile Mfecane, said the family had identified the child’s body and confirmed it was her.

“The entire community is shocked and outraged. This is the first time such a thing has happened here. Almost everyone is in tears. The frustration is that our children are not safe in their community any more. It’s very painful. I visited the family earlier and it’s difficult for them to come to terms with this,” said Mfecane.

Minentle’s aunt, Sesethu Bomela, said: “It is painful for all of us. We did not expect this to happen. This is a child who was raised right in front of me. She was a bright child who was excited about things. She liked learning new things and was very playful.”

Minentle’s parents were at the Lwandle Police Station and could not be interviewed.

Police spokesperson FC van Wyk said a post mortem would be conducted to determine the cause of death.

No one had been arrested.

“Circumstances of the death of this child are under investigation,” he said.

The Commission for Gender Equality sent its heartfelt condolences to Minentle’s family and called for communities to unite against violence against women and children.

Spokesperson Javu Baloyi said: “We are hoping that the communities can form street committees to work closely with community policing forums and with the police to report all suspicious behaviour by people around children, because someone must have seen something, somewhere.”

“These crimes are committed by people who think they can do things with impunity in our society. The criminal justice system is not effective. Police crime intelligence is not as strong as it used to be.”

He called for the reintroduction of specialised units in the police as a matter of urgency.

Anyone with information can contact Crime Stop anonymously on 086001011 or SMS Crime Line at 32211.

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