Siphokuhle Flephu, 11

Cape Town - The Independent Police Investigative Directorate is probing the apparent suicide of an alleged Delft rapist.

Two weekends ago, Delft was again rocked by an attack on a child – 12-year-old Siphokuhle Nontombi Flephu was raped and murdered, her body found on a bed in a shack.

Residents in Cheesewood Street said Siphokuhle had been playing with her cousin when a man, who was house-sitting for his ex-girlfriend, sent her to a shop for cigarettes at about 6pm on February 8.

She disappeared after returning from the shop. Late last week, a 27-year-old suspect was arrested.

But police confirmed on Monday that the man was found dead on Friday in his Bellville South police station cell, before making his first court appearance.

Police spokesman Lieutenant-Colonel Andre Traut on Monday confirmed the suspect’s death, and said the case was now in the hands of the Independent Police Investigative Directorate Directorate.

Ipid’s communications department in Pretoria said on Monday that the directorate was investigating, but it had not disclosed any information by midday.

Other reports on Monday morning suggested the man killed himself on Friday in Bellville South, but this could not be independently verified by the Ipid.

Siphokuhle’s mother, Zameka Flephu, was at home when her sister-in-law broke the news about her daughter’s murder. “Nontombi was a good girl, we never had any problems with her,” she said.

Bongiwe Nomavuka, who lived in the shack where the body was found, was en route from Port Elizabeth when a neighbour called to say something had happened at her home.

“I was receiving calls from my neighbour that my house was being left unattended, which is when I decided to return home quickly,” Nomavuka said.

“I arrived home and saw my safety gate and door were open. I went next door to see if they could tell me why my door was left open. I returned to my house, which was pitch dark, and lit a match so I could see.”

Nomavuka said she first saw the girl’s underwear lying on the floor.

Then she noticed her arm sticking out from beneath a pile of blankets on her bed. She pulled back the blankets and found Siphokuhle’s body, covered in blood.

Nomavuka ran to get help and the police were called. Meanwhile, residents had caught the man who had sent Siphokuhle to the shop. They are alleged to have assaulted him. Police responded to the call at 9.38pm and found the man injured.

He was taken to a nearby clinic.

Residents led police to the shack where they recovered the girl’s body.

Cape Argus