Johannesburg - Daphne Fredericks looked down at her hands, her eyes welling up with tears, as she said the only way her mutilated 3-year-old grandson could be identified was by the takkies she had bought him.
The grieving grandmother spent the past three days waiting for news of the child’s whereabouts, while the rest of her family scoured the streets of Reiger Park and the Ramaphosa settlement in Ekurhuleni looking for him.
Cuburne van Wyk went missing from his uncle’s house in Ramaphosa on Wednesday afternoon, but it was only late on Saturday that his family heard the body of a boy his age had been found on an abandoned mine dump near Reiger Park.
Provincial police spokeswoman Colonel Noxolo Kweza said police were still conducting DNA tests to determine if the boy was indeed Cuburne, but his family is convinced it’s him.
According to Fredericks and Cuburne’s mother, Leizell van Wyk, the face of the child found on the mine dump had been badly bruised, with one half of his body burnt beyond recognition.
But because of the tiny tracksuit and takkies the small body was still wearing, which the family recognised as Cuburne’s, they are in mourning.
Fredericks said that the only comfort they felt was knowing Cuburne’s fate, and this was only slightly better than not knowing what had happened to him.
The grief-stricken grandmother said it was just a few weeks ago that Cuburne had been discharged from hospital, where he was often admitted for epilepsy treatment.
“I remember him running around just the other day. He had his birthday on April 15. This is brutal. Who can kill a child like that?” asked Fredericks, choking up with emotion.
Visibly shocked from the horrifying discovery of what she is sure is her son’s body, the boy’s mother said she held out no hope that the body was that of a different child.
She begged the mothers of Reiger Park to watch over their children to ensure they didn’t suffer the same pain and fate.
Cuburne’s father, Elroy Peters, said the community was furious over the recent child deaths in the neighbourhood, and that threats of mob justice were increasing.
The family were informed that Cuburne was last seen with a man known as “Chicken”, a suspected drug addict who had allegedly been spotted carrying Cuburne away from his uncle’s house after giving him a biscuit.
Kweza said police investigators were following up clues that could lead to an arrest, but confirmed that no suspects had as yet been questioned.
Ekurhuleni mayor Mondli Gungubele expressed shock at the child’s death and called on the community to help the police find the killers.
“What is of great concern to us as the city is that a 10-year-old was found dead in the same place last year, and we call on all the law enforcement agencies to take a particular interest in that mine dump to halt this evil practice,” said the metro’s mayoral spokesman, Zweli Dlamini.
Ekurhuleni metro will ensure that social workers are available to assist the family to deal with their loss and to ensure that the child receives a dignified funeral, Dlamini said.
Meanwhile, two other Gauteng families are mourning the death of their own young boys, one of whom lived a few kilometres from Cuburne’s house.
Last month, 4-year-old Taegrin Morris was killed during a hijacking when he was trapped in a seatbelt and dragged behind his mother’s car.
His death sparked outrage in Reiger Park, with Gauteng Premier David Makhura visiting the community to try to comfort his grieving family.
Rachel Kok, Taegrin’s aunt, suffered a heart attack last week. Her family said she died of a broken heart.
Police are yet to make arrests in connection with the crime.
And, south of Joburg, the Tibbetts family are grieving over the loss of 3-year-old Luke.
He was shot while sitting on his mother’s lap in a car in Westbury, as they drove down a street during a gang-related shooting.
Luke remained on life support in hospital and was declared dead shortly after midday on Friday.
Two men have been arrested and are expected to appear in the Sophiatown Magistrate’s Court on Tuesday.