File picture: Phill Magakoe/Independent Media
Johannesburg – Haunting cries pierced the air as a five-month pregnant woman, who was gang-raped and then pelted with stones and doused with petrol, was buried on Saturday.

Jeanette Cindi-Mabitsela, 34, was killed on April 1, when she was with a group of friends walking home at about 4am in Tshepisong near Kagiso on the West Rand, when one of her friends was hit by a taxi.

An altercation between Cindi-Mabitsela’s friends and occupants of the taxi ensued. Some of her friends, who also live in Tshepisong near Leratong Hospital, fled, leaving her with her injured friend Lungelo Buthelezi.

During the altercation, the taxi men allegedly bundled them into their vehicle and drove off to a piece of veld, where they allegedly took turns to rape her.

Cindi-Mabitsela and Buthelezi were later pelted with stones and then set alight.

They were still alive when they were found by a passerby.

Cindi-Mabitsela succumbed to her injuries on Sunday while Buthelezi died on Monday from his injuries.

Seven suspects were traced through the registration plate of the taxi which was taken down by one of the victims’ friends.They are due to appear in the Kagiso Magistrate’s Court on Wednesday.

On Sunday, hundreds of mourners paid their last respects to the two friends at the Abundant Faith Christian Church in Tshepisong. Emotions were high, especially since Gauteng has been hit by a series of rapes allegedly by drivers using Quantum taxis. During one attack a woman was raped in front of her 10-year-old son.

Speakers took turns describing Cindi-Mabitsela as a humble and caring person.

A neighbour of Cindi-Mabitsela, Louisa Ngidi, said: “She never bothered anyone in Tshepisong. She was a very respectful person. Jeanette was a loving mother to her 16-year-old son, Thabo.”

Another friend Mpho Sapele said: “What these people did to my friend Jeanette has broken my spirit.”

Mourners said Buthelezi, a father of a five-year-old daughter, was a great man who would be missed by his family and friends. The bosses of the alleged murderers, who came from different taxi associations such as the Dobsonville, Roodepoort, Leratong, Johannesburg Taxi Association (Dorljota), Gauteng National Taxi Alliance, also attended the funeral.

Peter Mabe, chairman of Dorljota, apologised to the families of Cindi-Mabitsela and Buthelezi, and condemned the actions of their attackers.

Mabe emphasised his sadness and disappointment at how the murders had put the association in bad light. “Right now as an association we are under attack and our duty right now is give support to the Buthelezis and Cindis. We pledge by all means that in the next five years, we will look after the welfare of their children.”

Theo Malele of the National Taxi Association said they were also disturbed by the brutal attack, saying, “real men do not do such horrible things like this. Real men don’t do this to women, rather they protect mothers, sisters and children and their communities.

“We shall no longer hire a driver without vetting them properly.”

Later the coffins of the two victims were paraded through David Webster and Godfrey Pitje streets before they were later laid to rest side by side in Slovoville Cemetery in Soweto.

The burial service was a heartbreaking moment for Cindi-Mabitsela’s family and relatives.

Sunday Independent