Durban - Schoolgirls in Jozini have started to walk to and from school in groups after the rape and murder of two teenagers this month.
The bodies of Lungelo Ntshangase, 13, and Zamile Zikhali, 14, were found in bush.
Police said their murders took place a week apart.
Zamile, a Grade 10 pupil at Lifalakhe High School, had been missing for a week after she had left home on February 12 to go to her uncle’s home.
Her decomposing body was found in the bush about a kilometre from her home.
Her funeral was held on Sunday.
A 29-year-old man was arrested for her rape and murder and he was expected to apply for bail today.
Lungelo had left home for school on February 4 and had been missing for a week before her body was found by community members.
She had been strangled with her school jersey.
A 26-year-old man was arrested in connection with her rape and murder. He was denied bail in the Ngwavume Magistrate’s Court.
Zamile’s uncle, Enoch Ndlovu, said even though her body had started decomposing he could see that there was a wound on her neck.
“The bones on her throat were separated. That could have been from someone slicing her neck or wounding her on her throat in some way,” he said.
Ndlovu said it would bring the family closure if they had the opportunity to see the man who had killed their child.
“We wouldn’t want to touch him or to do anything to him physically, but to look into his eyes would bring us some closure.”
Bethuel Mthethwa, mayor of Jozini, said: “This is emotionally disturbing, especially when you think that there are people out there who pay bail so criminals can carry on roaming the streets.”
He was speaking to the Daily News at Zamile’s funeral and said rapes in the area began in 2010, when an elderly woman – in her seventies – was beaten and raped in her house.
The culprit was never caught by police.
“Her face was covered in bruises. I remember this from when I went to see her soon after the rape.”
Thanduyise Motha, a district director from the Department of Education, who was also at the funeral, said there were plans that involved local community police forums (CPFs) to try to tackle the issue of rape in Jozini.
“Children have to walk through the bush to get to school and it is not safe for them.
“We are talking with traditional leaders to identify people from the CPF who can accompany these children to and from school so they don’t have to walk alone,” said Motha.
Girls from the high school, who were also at the funeral, said they had to wait for each other in the mornings before walking to school in a group.
“The problem is that the boys at our school are young and we hardly feel safe when we walk to school with them,” said one of the Grade 12 pupils.