Durban - Five days after she went missing, the beaten and mutilated body of a 4-year-old Durban girl has been found in Mariannhill, in bush not far from her home.

Her family claim it took three days before police came to the family to help search.

Anele Jali, who had been staying with her grandmother in Mariannhill, had been visiting her parents, who live nearby, when she went missing on March 8.

After an extensive, agonising search by her family, her cousin found her body on Thursday.

“When I went to the scene I could not even recognise her.

“Some parts of her face looked like they had been removed,” Trevor Jali, her devastated father, said on Monday.

“Her legs and arms were bruised like she had been beaten very hard. Her stomach looked like she had been burnt with hot water.”

Jali said nothing seemed to show that the crime had been committed where his daughter’s body was found.

“I still cannot believe that someone would do that to a child. If only the perpetrator can be found I would be in peace.”

Jali said Anele had been playing in front of their house on the afternoon of Saturday, March 8.

“When I went out to look for her she was not there.

“We started asking people if they had seen her, but no one knew where she had gone.”

He said they immediately began a search and reported the child missing to the police. Pictures of the little girl were posted at local taxi ranks.

“We waited for the police to come and assist us, but they only came on Tuesday…,” he said.

Police spokesman, Captain Thulani Zwane denied this, saying police had started their investigation as soon as the family reported the child missing at the Mariannhill police station.

Zwane said: “The family gave a description of the child to police and this was circulated to other stations as well as the Missing Person’s Bureau.”

He said police had looked for the missing child and had also distributed pamphlets requesting anyone with information to come forward.

He denied there were any delays in the investigation.

He said the station’s Crime Prevention Unit also circulated Anele’s picture in the community.

He said police did go back to the family to discuss any progress with the investigation but did not say when.

Jali said his family and neighbours had also gone around calling his daughter’s name on a loudhailer, to no avail.

Three policemen from the local community police forum had joined them in the search, he said.

“We went out searching every day.” He said he had lost hope of finding Anele alive.

His nephew and neighbour found the body in bush near a railway line not far from their home.

“They said they saw her feet after they had smelt something rotten and discovered it was Anele. And then they came to call us,” said Jali.

His wife was too distraught to speak.

Daily News