Murdered Minentle Lekhatha’s mother, Thandiswa Lekhatha, outside the Western Cape High Court where Xolani Lantu, the man convicted of kidnapping, raping and murdering her daughter, was sentenced to three life terms yesterday. Picture: David Ritchie/African News Agency (ANA)
The family of slain five-year-old Minentle Lekhatha has hailed the triple life terms handed to murderer Xolani Lantu in the Western Cape High Court yesterday.

Lantu, 35, who murdered the child and dumped her body, was sentenced to an additional five years for raping her.

This as the family of murdered 12-year-old Charnelle McCrawl await the high court trial of Stanton Mano and Carlo de Kock.

They allegedly raped and murdered her before wrapping her body in a bag and dumping it at a wetland system in Manenberg last year.

Their case at the Wynberg Magistrate’s Court was postponed to next month. De Kock was Charnelle’s uncle.

Charnelle suffered multiple blunt-force injuries to her head, neck and genitals, and traces of semen were found on her pants.

Minentle’s family welcomed the sentences passed on Lantu, saying they enabled the family to find closure.

Minentle’s body was discovered under a 5m-long bridge over the Soet River on June4 last year, after she had gone missing the previous day while playing with friends outside her home.

Lantu was arrested three days later, and had been in custody until sentencing.

Lantu was Minentle’s grandmother’s former boyfriend. He admitted that he had committed the crimes because he was angry with the child’s grandmother.

Arguing for life sentences in Lantu’s sentencing proceedings, State prosecutor Maria Marshall asked Judge Derek Wille to take into account the number of cases involving children that were being heard in the Western Cape High Court.

Marshall mentioned the case of Mortimer Saunders, who has admitted to killing three-year-old Courtney Pieters in Elsies River in May last year. “The perpetrators are (allegedly) all known to the deceased and their families,” she told Wille.

“The accused (Lantu) is a monster and a coward who preyed on a little innocent girl who did not deserve to die the way she did. After his callous and heinous deed, he left her there like a piece of garbage to be eaten by rats,” Marshall said.

On the night Minentle went missing, Lantu, when asked by her family of her whereabouts, denied knowing the answer.

Video footage from a property not far from the bridge where Minentle’s body was found led to Lantu’s arrest.

Lantu asked Minentle’s mother, Thandiswa Lekhatha, to forgive him, but she refused to do so.

The National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) and the police welcomed the sentences, with NPA spokesperson Eric Ntabazalila saying they would send a strong message to would-be offenders. Provincial police commissioner Khombinkosi Jula commended the investigating team for the great work they did to ensure justice was served. [email protected]

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