THE Western Cape High Court sentenced 34-year-old Bongani Dlamini to life behind bars on Monday for the murder of five-year-old Anovuyo Ndamase.

Ndamase was reported missing in March last year after her mother, Kholeka Ndamase, realised she was no longer playing outside her Khayelitsha home.

The little girl's shoes were lying outside, but there was no sign of Anovuyo herself.

Residents started a search and police were soon to join.

The search continued for four days until her naked body was discovered stuffed in a bag, along with her clothes, behind the house of a man who lived about three houses away from Dlamini.

The court found that she had been assaulted with a blow to the head with a hammer, which shattered her skull.

Judge Ashley Binns-Ward said the murder had resulted “not only in the tragic loss of a promising young life, but also in the devastation of the lives of her parents”.

He said the parents had clearly not been able to come to terms with the loss of their little girl.

“In a very real sense they are just as much victims of his crime as was Anovuyo,” Judge Binns-Ward said.

In September, Dlamini was convicted of murder, but acquitted on charges of rape and kidnapping. The judge described him as a “poor and unconvincing witness”.

On the rape charge, he said there was “no direct evidence that the accused sexually penetrated the deceased”, but the fact that the accused's semen was found on a pillow cover also stained with the child's blood “certainly gives cause for suspicion”.

The judge described Dlamini’s behaviour after the crime as “calculated and cynical”, saying he “even participated in a search for her after her mother had raised the alarm about the young girl's disappearance”.