Johannesburg - The boy was found sitting, face resting on his chest, in a dustbin - dead, his body decomposed.
When he was moved, the 12-year-old’s neck was loose, as if it had been broken.
A terrible smell from the garage at a Soweto home had led a father-of-three to make the gruesome discovery on Saturday.
Taxi driver Richard Sibeko had been anxiously searching for his son for nearly a week.
Mthokozisi Sibeko Mdanda, 12, who was in Grade 4, was reported missing after he failed to return home from a local shop.
He had gone to buy bread and eggs on the Saturday before last.
Sibeko said he had driven down Elias Motsoaledi Road in Jabavu on that fateful day.
He had exchanged greetings with his son, not knowing it was the last time he would see his last-born alive.
The Zola taxi driver had asked the boy if he was okay. “I am fine,” the boy had replied.
“It was just after 4pm as I was driving down the road. He gave me [the] thumbs-up [and flashed me] a smile I’ll never forget,” said the father.
Sibeko had not slept at home that Saturday because heavy rain had prevented him from driving back. Instead he had slept at the place where he parks his taxi.
“I realised that Mthokozisi wasn’t home when I arrived the next morning. “My brothers told me he hadn’t slept at home the previous night.”
That was when Sibeko started searching for the boy.
One of the first things he did was seek help from the local radio station.
He then went to local shops which have coin-operated games to ask if they had seen his son.
“I knew he loved playing games.” he noted.
He said some of Mthokozisi’s friends had indicated that they had seen him. On Monday, he went to the police to report him missing.
On Saturday afternoon, he had gone inside the garage to get a curtain that he needed to hang in his shack.
The room was dark and he went to fetch a torch. “There was this smell that was just irritating me. When I went back inside the room, the smell was still there.
“I looked under the bed and shouted ‘Is it you my Mthoko?’I went around searching until I opened the bin and saw my son sitting inside it.”
His world came to a standstill with a grinding jolt.
“There was a huge pain inside me. I still can’t think straight, I still have those images running in my mind.
“He was in a bad state, I saw it when the police removed him,” the bereft father said.
What had saddened him most was the fact that children living in the yard had been playing inside the garage in the days leading up to the gruesome discovery.
“I fail to understand how my son ended inside the bin without anyone seeing him.”
And for Sibeko, Christmas won’t be the joyous occasion he had hoped for. He had been looking forward to getting his boy a pair of new bicycle wheels for Christmas.
“He asked me to have those ready so that his two elder brothers can fix it for him. He loved playing.”
Police spokesman Kay Makhubela said an inquest would be opened.