Pretoria - The search for a missing 7-year-old Atteridgeville girl ended tragically when she was found dead in a black plastic bag three doors away from her own home.
Little Buhle Sibeko, a Grade 1 pupil at Makgatho Primary School, had been missing for about six hours when the suspect, a 15-year-old boy from next door, was found allegedly carrying the little girl’s body in a plastic bag on Monday night.
He apparently told Zinhle Lebese, 19, a cousin of Buhle, that he was carrying refuse. Lebese saw the suspect leaving his home carrying a black bag that evening.
Lebese had been talking to a neighbour when he saw the suspect walk down the road with a black bag. He followed him and confronted him about the black bag.
“I asked him what was in the bag and he said it’s rubbish that his granny had sent him to dump at the corner of the road,” he said.
Lebese, who is friends with the suspect and attends the same Hofmeyr Secondary School in Atteridgeville, said he did not believe him and insisted on seeing for himself, but the suspect refused.
“I lunged at the bag and felt a body and I told him this is a person… I knew at that stage that it was [Buhle]. I was shocked,” he said.
Lebese said the suspect released the plastic bag and ran away from the scene heading down Tau Street while he opened the bag again to confirm the contents. He said there were a least four witnesses who saw the suspect carrying the bag.
The suspect was arrested the same evening.
Buhle’s aunt, Lindiwe Sibeko, said it would be hard to face the neighbours.
She said she hoped the suspect would be denied bail when the matter goes to court. She was concerned he would be let off the hook as he was a minor.
Police spokeswoman Warrant Officer Wanda Olivier confirmed the arrest of the boy. A case of murder had been opened, she said.
Sibeko said Buhle had been invited to the house next door by the grandmother for a meal of mashed potatoes and meat after she returned from school at about 1pm.
Later in the afternoon, after the family had realised that the little girl had not been seen for a while, the other children started looking for her.
The search was extended to streets further from the home and at the nearby park. Still not finding her, she said, they started to worry and went to the neighbour’s home to check for themselves as this was where Buhle had last been seen.
The grandmother would not allow the search to extend to the bedrooms as the occupants were not present, it is alleged. The suspect had been part of the search team that looked for the missing girl.
The family claims that Buhle was raped by the suspect. Police said they were still investigating the death and that a charge of rape was not yet being investigated.
The dead girl leaves her father, who is based in KwaZulu-Natal, and a 16-year-old sister.
Funeral arrangements had not yet been finalised.