Johannesburg - Blood on the clothes of a father whose 12-year-old son was found dead in a dustbin in their Soweto home has led to his arrest.
A post-mortem conducted on Mthokozisi Sibeko Mdanda showed the boy’s neck and legs had been broken, according to police spokesman Kay Makhubela.
Richard Sibeko has been arrested in connection with his son’s death.
Makhubela said: “The [sniffer] dog detected blood on the father’s clothing and next to the dustbin. That on its own led to the father being the primary suspect,” he said.
Mthokozisi’s body was found on Saturday, sitting, his face resting on his chest, in a dustbin, his body decomposing.
When he was moved, his neck was loose, as if it was broken.
A terrible smell from the garage at the Jabavu home had led the father-of-three to make the gruesome discovery.
The father, a taxi driver, had been anxiously searching for his son for nearly a week.
On Monday, yellow tape cordoned off the Sibekos’ four-room house. Also closed off from the scene were Mthokozisi family members, who stood watching as police officers descended on their property with sniffer dogs.
The Grade 4 pupil was reported missing after he failed to return home from a local shop on December 1. During an interview with The Star on Sunday, Sibeko said he had driven down Elias Motsoaledi Road in Jabavu on that fateful day.
He exchanged greetings with his son and asked the boy if he was okay. “I am fine,” the boy had replied.
“It was just after 4pm as I was driving down the road. He gave me a thumbs-up, and a smile I’ll never forget,” said the father.
He said he had not slept at home that Saturday because heavy rain had prevented him from driving back. Instead he had slept at the place where he parks his taxi, in Zola. “I realised that Mthokozisi wasn’t home when I arrived the next morning. My brothers told me he hadn’t slept at home the previous night.”
That was when he started searching for the boy until he found him inside the dustbin in their garage, he said.
“There was a huge pain inside me. I still can’t think straight, I still have those images running in my mind.
“He was in a bad state, I saw it when the police removed him,” the father said.
Shocked Emisebeni Junior Primary School teachers have described Mthokozisi as a warm, active and sensitive boy.
His teacher, who did not want to be named, said she had become aware of the child’s death after reading a newspaper article.
“We all had hope. What made us strong was the fact that the father hadn’t lost hope.”
Neighbours were shocked to hear that the boy’s father had been arrested.
A neighbour who did not want to be named said Sibeko was a good father who had raised his son well after the 12-year-old’s mother died.
“He made sure Mthokozisi had a good home and raised him with the help of his brothers. Every time he would [be ferrying commuters], he would come by and check on him to give him money for a kota [bunny chow],” she said.
She said they had never heard anything bad about the father.
Sibeko’s brother Niniza said he was confused by the way the police had handled the situation. “It’s like they are forcing him to admit to something he did not do,” he said.
Niniza said his brother had been taken to the police station on Monday, and when he returned home later that night, he fainted and was foaming at the mouth.
They said he also looked as though his nose had been bleeding.
“If he feels that he was assaulted, he must feel free to open a case. It will be investigated,” said Makhubela.
An aunt, who asked not to be named, said the family wanted to know who the killer was, and if it was Sibeko, the law should take its course.
“His rights weren’t read to him and they did not tell us why they were taking him. A local radio station has already said he is guilty without any facts or charges,” she said.
The aunt said that just because he had not slept at home that night was not proof he had killed Mthokozisi.
“He doesn’t have a wife. He doesn’t have to sleep at home. Taxi drivers often don’t sleep at home,” she said.
The aunt said they wanted justice to be done, but were not at all happy with the way the police were doing things.