JUSTICE: Minentle, 5
The man who raped and murdered a five-year-old girl after he fell out with her grandmother just over a year ago, was handed three life sentences in the High Court in Cape Town on Wednesday.

Minentle Lekhakha went missing while playing outside her home in Strand on 3 June last year. Her ouma’s ex-berk, Xolani Lantu, 35, was arrested shortly after her body was found.

Police have welcomed the lengthy sentence, saying it is a victory for crimefighters.

“Minentle’s grandmother, Thelma Bombela, 51, broke off her relationship with Lantu due to him becoming verbally abusive and little Minentle had to pay for this with her life,” said police spokeswoman, Sergeant Noloyiso Rwexana.

“Her body was found under a bridge along Broadway Soek Street in the Nomzamo area of Strand and it was established that she had been raped prior to being murdered.

“Judge Derek Willie, during sentencing, said that the court had to send a clear message to brazen criminals such as Lantu, who acted full of callousness and without regard for human life, that they will be punished severely when committing such heinous crimes.”

Judge Willie also pointed out that the victim’s family had been left “broken and traumatised” by the senseless rape and murder of Minentle.

Judge Willie rejected the defence’s statement that Lantu had killed the child because he was angry with her ouma.

Minentle’s mother welcomed the sentence, but said: “It would not bring back my little girl.”

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