Thousands of people came to pay their final respects to 11-year-old Stacha Arendse, who was raped and killed, allegedly by her neighbour Randy Tango, 31, last week.
And when Mitchells Plain Station Commander, Brigadier Cass Goolam, took to the stage at the Orion Church International, in Rocklands, he had the congregation's undivided attention when he revealed that Stacha had a deeply spiritual moment before her life was brutally cut short.
Stacha’s small white coffin, which was opened for viewing, stood perched in front of the stage.
The Grade 7 Tafelsig Primary School pupil was dressed in a pink satin dress with a diamanté collar. A glass cover was placed over her bruised face.
The 2 500-seat church was filled to capacity, with hundreds more mourners standing outside, hoping to catch a final glimpse of the child, who had been described as a friendly, respectful girl who had been looking forward to her junior prom later this year.
A private viewing was earlier held at the family’s home in Matroosberg Street, Tafelsig.
Stacha disappeared on March 27 while watching movies at a friend’s home a few doors down.
She was reported missing at 7pm, and some hours later, at about 2am, her naked and battered body was found dumped on a soccer field near Swartklip Road.
Police revealed her killer had used another child to lure Stacha out of the house by telling her her mom had been looking for her.
Tango was arrested and charged with kidnapping, rape and murder in the Mitchells Plain Magistrate's Court on Monday.
On Tuesday, an emotional Brigadier Goolam broke down when he told mourners of Stacha’s final moments, saying she had taught him the real meaning of bravery.
He revealed that Tango had confessed to the murder, and told police what had happened before he killed her.
“If only I was half as brave, I think I would make a better police officer,” said Goolam, who recalled Stacha’s final words, as told to him by her alleged killer.
“Most of us are Christians here, to understand what transpired in the heat of events, was something spiritual.
“At the heat of the events, under threat, this child says: ‘Leave my people alone, rather kill me, you may get away with it, but Jesus knows.”
At this, emotional mourners shouted: “Hallelujah!”
Stacha’s heartbroken classmates also took to the stage to read a poem and sing the hymn, Power of Your Love.
A massive screen projected beautiful images of the pretty young girl as her stepdad, Shannon Markgraf, her mother, Sandy Markgraf, and paternal grandmother Dawn Godfrey took to the stage to thank the community for their support.
Stacha’s biological father, Stanley Godfrey, was also present but wasn’t called to the stage.
Shannon said: “To Stacha, my baby, I love you. I hope this will teach every parent to give love each and every day.
“We want to thank the SA Police for giving us closure.”
The family of murdered Rene-Tracy Roman, 13, of Lavender Hill, was also present.
Rene’s alleged killer, neighbour Andrew Plaatjies, 50, appeared at the Wynberg Magistrate's Court earlier, where the matter was postponed for a formal bail application.
Stacha was laid to rest at Klip Road Cemetery, in Grassy Park.
Tango is expected back at court on May 3 for a formal bail application.