Johannesburg - Had they acted sooner when they heard her cries. Had she come to them sooner with her tragic secret. Had they not ignored the signs, perhaps things would have turned out differently.
These were the thoughts that haunted Naturena Extension 19 residents on Tuesday afternoon as they stood outside their neighbour Dorina Sihlali’s house moments after a police van had left with her body.
On Tuesday morning, Sihlali’s 41-year-old son Daluxolo was led into the back of a police van, his hands bound behind his back.
The dreadlocked man appeared calm as police officers escorted him to their vehicle.
He has been charged with allegedly stabbing his 58-year-old mother to death.
It is unclear when the crime was committed.
“This man had hit his mother on Saturday night, threw her out of the house and let her sleep outside in her car.
“We saw what was happening and called the police, who came, warned him about his behaviour and she was let back in her house,” said neighbour Peter Moloi, who lives opposite.
It was Sihlali’s colleague from Life Flora Clinic, where she worked as a nurse, who sounded the alarm on Tuesday.
“I was standing at the stop sign at the top of the street at about 8am with other neighbours when this woman approached us, saying her matron asked her to come check on Sihlali, but got to the house and the gate was locked.
“We all went outside Sihlali’s house, and instead of going in, we thought ‘let’s call the police’,” Moloi said.
He said the same officer who had responded to the incident on Saturday night arrived on the scene with other officers.
After a few minutes, the officer left for Mondeor police station to call the dog unit.
“While we were still waiting for him to return, a call came in on Alex’s phone (one of the neighbours) and it was the officer, saying he had found Sihlali’s son near Sun City (Johannesburg Prison), and when he asked him where his mother was, he answered ‘I killed her’,” he said.
Thalitha Motlhalo, who used to attend church with Sihlali, was so shocked by the news that she sat traumatised outside her gate.
With bloodshot eyes, she said: “We didn’t know he was an abusive boy… We were not aware. You would never say at church… Why didn’t she come to me? She knew I lived alone. She had been living in silence for so long.”
Moloi said the men in the neighbourhood should have apprehended Sihlali’s son sooner.
“We heard when he hit her, but no one here can say they ever went inside the yard. We as men should have done something,” he said.
Some neighbours also alleged the son might have raped her, but those reports were unconfirmed.
This is not the first tragedy to befall the neighbourhood. Moloi said another resident nearby hanged himself in his doorway two weeks ago.
Mondeor police spokeswoman Constable Sibongile Mnguni confirmed the man’s arrest and said Sihlali’s next of kin were in Cape Town and still needed to be informed of the incident.