Self-confessed child rapist and killer Randy Tango says he is sorry for murdering 11-year-old Stacha Arendse.
This was heard in a letter read out in the Cape High Court on Thursday, where Tango was convicted of statutory rape, two counts of rape and murder.
For the first time since his trial began on Monday, the usually cocky 32-year-old looked vulnerable as he took his seat in the dock.
Court one was packed with family, neighbours and community members who are part of the Mitchells Plain Crisis Forum.
It was also revealed that DNA samples taken from blood and semen had linked Tango to Stacha’s murder.
The blood and semen had been found on the sheet he had wrapped Stacha’s body in, and on her clothing.
Tango pleaded guilty to raping and killing Stacha but not guilty to four counts of rape involving two other victims, which took place in 2008 and 2012 in Mitchells Plain.
One of the women was 14 at the time and said she became pregnant after Tango allegedly raped her for a second time.
Stacha was killed in March this year, at Tango’s Matroosberg Street home in Tafelsig.
In his plea explanation, Tango said he killed his little neighbour because he didn’t want to go to jail, after she threatened to tell her mother of the rape.
He claimed he lured Stacha to his home after asking a boy to call her at her friend’s house in Matroosberg Street.
He detailed how he strangled her with his bare hands and wrapped her body in a sheet, before putting it in a wheelie bin and then dumping her on Tafelsig Sports Ground.
He hid her clothing and the sheet a short distance away from the body.
Judge Robert Henney started his judgement with the two other women, who testified this week that both their cases against Tango had been withdrawn without their knowledge.
Both cases were reopened this year when a new investigative officer approached them.
Henney said they were single witnesses whose evidence was not strong enough to convince the court of Tango’s guilt.
There were too many inconsistencies, and the first victim became romantically involved with Tango, and even lived with him after the alleged incidents.
The second victim did not attend a consultation with the prosecutor at court and according to testimony by the then detective, she had gone on holiday with Tango after the alleged incident.
He found Tango not guilty on four charges of rape, but guilty on a charge of statutory rape.
He said Tango at first claimed he did not know the 14-year-old victim, but later admitted she was underage when he had sex with her.
Henney found Tango guilty of murder and two counts of rape for Stacha, saying he was satisfied with the plea explanation.
During mitigation and aggravation of sentencing, State prosecutor Maresa Engelbrecht asked for three life terms and said Tango had a criminal record dating back to 2005, ranging from assault and theft to possession of drugs.
Tango’s lawyer, Advocate Koos Smit, told the court his client had expressed remorse for what he had done and wanted to say sorry to Stacha’s parents.
He said Tango was a father of three, and had killed Stacha during “a spontaneous moment”, and felt bad when he realised what he had done.
He said Tango’s father, Steven Tango, had supported his son during trial.
He then read out a short letter, written in Afrikaans, while Tango stood with his head bowed.
“Ek is baie jammer vir wat ek gedoen het,” Smit read, adding, “En hy pleit vir vergifnis.”
He went on: “Ek weet niks kan daardie kind terug bring nie. Maar ek hoop hulle sal dit in hulle harte kry om my te vergewe.”
Engelbrecht then read out a heart-wrenching letter from Stacha’s mother, Sandy Markgraff, and said Tango had preyed on Stacha.
“The accused knew the mother of the deceased and grew up with her and went to school with her and he killed her daughter so brutally. He used to watch her (Stacha) all of her life,” she said.
The letter states: “There is nothing in this world that would give back or fill this void and emptiness. All we want is our daughter back. The day we lost Stacha was the day we lost ourselves.”
Sentencing has been set for Monday.