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Johannesburg - It was unusual to see a swarm of flies buzzing around the old fridge.
This made Skieper Stuurman so suspicious that he decided to check if something was inside.
He opened the fridge and saw the little bodies of his greatgrandson Skhukhuza, four, and his two friends Rorisang, three, and Onalenna Medupi, three.
The children were last seen playing outside the Stuurman family home in Vrisgewacht North West, on Thursday, morning.
Stuurman immediately called Skhukhuza’s mother Rhina, who was at the police station in the neighbouring town, Atamelang, opening a missing person’s case.
“Are they alive?” she asked
“Just get here with the police,” said Stuurman, before hanging up.
“I had to end the call because if I said anything more, she would not be fine.”
Rorisang lived two houses away and her cousin Onalenna was visiting for a while.
When Rorisang’s mother Sarah wondered why the children hadn’t come back to eat breakfast, she went out to look for them.
Skhukhuza’s mother had left the children to play when she went to buy soap at the shop next door. “I was gone for five minutes, just five minutes,” she said.
Once the mothers realised the children were no longer there, they started to search for them.
After a few hours - at around 3pm - they called the police, who told them they would have to wait 48 hours before the children could be declared missing.
“I didn’t understand why they would say that. These are little children who wouldn’t just go off alone. It was an emergency,” said Sarah.
They continued searching for the children with Stuurman, Onalennna’s mother Lesego and residents until late on Thursday.
On Friday, the search continued. It was around 1pm that Stuurman went to check the old fridge. It could only be opened from the outside.
He discovered the bodies slumped next to each other. They had been in the fridge for more than 24 hours.
“His aunt had bought him new clothes and I was going to surprise him,” said Lesego.
Her son Onalenna would have turned four next month and she had promised him a birthday party with a jumping castle.
“He was an active and clever boy who loved to dance. He was going to start Grade R next year,” she said.
His cousin Rorisang was a real chatterbox who loved talking to people.
“She was popular with everyone. All my strength just left me when they said she was dead,” said Sarah.
She believes the police could have made a difference had they helped search for the children from the beginning.
Skhukhuza’s mother said:
“It was very sad, but I had no choice but to accept. I think about my child all the time.
“He loved to laugh and was friendly to everyone.”
North West police spokeswoman Sergeant Kealeboga Molale said it was believed the children died from suffocation, but the matter was still under investigation.