Masegos mother, Kate Kgomo, and an unidentified family member outside the Pretoria High Court on Monday. Picture: Thobile Mathonsi

There was high drama on Monday as one of Masego Kgomo’s muti murderers was convicted in the Pretoria High Court, with community members jeering the killer, and the little girl’s sobbing mother collapsing outside court.

A well-dressed Brian Mangwale stood with his head bowed as Judge Billy Mothle found him guilty of kidnapping the little girl before killing her so that her body parts could be sold for money.

The judge said Mangwale did not act alone, but with the aid of other people, killed the 10-year-old girl on the afternoon of December 31, 2009.

“Evidence suggested that Masego was still alive when her body parts were removed,” the judge said.

The court could not find that she was raped by Mangwale, but it did not exclude the possibility that she was raped by the other culprits involved in this “horrific killing but not brought before court”, he said.

Earlier during the trial the judge also questioned why Mangwale was the only accused before court, as it was clear that others were involved in killing her so they could sell her body parts for muti. The state at the time indicated that following this verdict, more arrests could follow.

After Mangwale’s conviction, Masego’s father, Joseph Kgomo, said he hoped more people would be brought to book. “I am relieved that at least one has now been convicted. Praise the Lord.”

The child’s mother, Kate Kgomo, was extremely emotional and tears streamed down her face. She was about to speak to the media when she collapsed outside court. She was assisted by the Minister of Women, Children and People with Disabilities, Lulu Xingwana.

The minister, in thanking the prosecution and the judge, said it was a difficult time for Masego’s parents, especially as they had to listen to the evidence of how their child was brutally murdered. Xingwana said she hoped the other people involved in the killing would soon be brought to book.

Judge Mothle meanwhile labelled Mangwale a liar who tailored his evidence according to what his witnesses told the court.

Mangwale made confessions to the police and before magistrates – each one different – but in each statement he explained how he had kidnapped Masego after she went to buy him a cold drink.

In a statement before a magistrate, which was accepted by the court, Mangwale said he, with the help of others, ripped her body open while she was still alive, before tearing out her body parts, including her uterus.

He said he wrapped her organs in a plastic bag, which he hid in the bushes, while he helped her parents the community and the police in their week-long search for her. The organs were later sold to a sangoma.

A teenager who earlier took the stand behind closed doors, testified that he witnessed Masego being gang raped that night, but the judge could not make a finding as his evidence was lacking in many ways.

A post mortem report could also not make a finding on this, as her body was badly decomposed and she had hardly any organs left.

Mangwale claimed he was set up by the police, who assaulted him and took him to the spot where the child’s body was found, eight days after she disappeared.

But the police told the court that Mangwale, while claiming to take them to a place in Soshanguve where they would find the child, suddenly in the back of the car made noises as if he was possessed by spirits.

He then took them to a place near the railway station, where he pointed out a spot under thick bushes. When a policeman lifted a cover, he saw the skull of a child. Her body was naked from the waist down.

The version the court accepted, was that Magwale lured the child that afternoon after she bought him a cold drink and he handed her over to one of his co-conspirators.

He went home and helped in the search for her. When the search was called off that night, he sneaked out and joined his mates, who still had the child. They took her to bushes near the station where her organs were ripped out and she died.

Sentencing is expected on Tuesday. - Pretoria News