This toxic substance was found in the boys’ bodies, although strangulation was found to be the cause of death.
Amahle Bongiwe Maliwa, 28, was denied bail in the Durban Magistrate’s Court on Tuesday. She and 28-year-old Liziwe Ngwayise each face two counts of murder and kidnapping.
Only Maliwa applied for bail. Magistrate Mahomed Motala dismissed Maliwa’s application, saying there were no exceptional circumstances to qualify her for bail. He also denied bail because of the damning evidence the State has against her, that the murders were premeditated.
The women were arrested two days after the bodies of friends Luyanda Msomi and Njabulo Mankayi, both aged 10 and both Grade 3 pupils at Clairwood Boys’ Primary School, were found in November. They had been reported missing by their parents.
Njabulo’s decomposed body was found in the Grunter Gully Canal in Bayhead, south of Durban.
Luyanda’s body was found in a bush near Montclair a day later.
The State on Tuesday said it would present evidence that a witness who worked at the pharmacy saw Maliwa buying potassium permanganate powder, which, according to the investigating officer’s affidavit read to the court, is often used to heal sores, but was poisonous if ingested.
Warrant Officer Marius van der Looy told the court they would present a till slip issued to Maliwa when she bought the potassium permanganate from the pharmacy, and relied on its witness who had identified her as the customer.
In closing arguments prosecutor Balindile Khathi said the police had wanted to find more evidence from Maliwa’s house, including the potassium permanganate box and the boys’ schoolbags, which were believed to have been in her house. However, the angry community had already burned down her shack.
Maliwa and Ngwayise have pleaded not guilty and both had initially abandoned their bail applications, fearing for their lives.
Khathi said the State would present evidence that Maliwa was the mastermind behind the plan to murder Njabulo to get back at his father, who had ended their relationship. Luyanda was murdered because he would have been a witness to his friend’s murder.
Opposing bail, Khathi argued the State feared for the safety of child witnesses who had made statements that the boys were last seen alive with Maliwa.
Maliwa’s lawyer, Anele Mveku, argued for her release on bail so that she could care for her four children. Two of the children were taken to a place of safety after her arrest, and two are being cared for by a paternal uncle.
“I am not saying that there is anything wrong with the place of safety, but a child is always best with their biological parents,” she said.
Mveku’s argument was that the State had no direct evidence linking Maliwa to the murder, except evidence by witnesses who alleged that she was last seen with the boys.
However, Motala felt that the State had strong evidence against Maliwa and, judging by the community's outrage after her arrest, her safety and assurance that she would not interfere with witnesses was not guaranteed.
He denied bail considering the safety of other child witnesses, because the State argued that Luyanda was killed because he was a witness to Njabulo’s murder.