Four-year-old Iyapha Yamile was murdered and her body found in a plastic bag dumped near her aunt's house in Town Two Khayelitsha. Picture: Supplied
Cape Town - As the spate of child murders in the Western Cape continues unabated, one Khayelitsha family is struggling to come to terms with the murder of their little girl, and another Cape Town family is praying for the safe return of their missing toddler daughter who disappeared on Thursday.

Iyapha Yamile’s mutilated body was discovered in a toilet just three blocks from her Mankankaza Street home on Monday.

The four-year-old’s distraught father, Danile Ngongoshe, believes the number 24 that was inked on to her body may be the mark of a gang.

Iyapha went missing on Sunday evening.

Police say she was reportedly drugged and raped before she was murdered.

Four men – including a neighbour and a friend of her father – have been arrested in connection with her murder. Earlier this week, angry community members set the neighbour’s shack alight.

On Friday, Deputy Minister of Public Service and Administration Dipuo Letsatsi-Duba, the Khayelitsha Development Forum (KDF), community leaders and residents gathered at the slain girl’s house for a prayer meeting.

Letsatsi-Duba visited the crime scene and the site of the destroyed shack across the street from Iyapha’s home. “What I saw is an indication of underlying problems in society: high levels of unemployment and, most importantly, the issue of morality. A four-year-old mutilated in that manner – it’s a deep-seated problem that must be confronted by the community as a whole. The lack of morality is the biggest problem in our society,” she said.

Ngongoshe said he had searched for his daughter until 1am on Monday morning.

“At that moment, I was anxious, scared and feared the worst until we got confirmation later that morning.”

The father of three said he was overwhelmed by emotion when he saw the child’s body.

“The police turned her body around. She had been lying there, lifeless and face-down with her hand in her mouth,” Ngongoshe said.

He believes his daughter may have been the victim of a gang initiation as he had been told of a Mitchells Plain girl who was the same age as Iyapha, who had been found injured and with the number 24 on her back.

Provincial police spokesperson Sergeant Noloyiso Rwexana said she could not divulge further details.

Iyapha will be buried next weekend in eNcorha, Cofimvaba, in the Eastern Cape.

Meanwhile, another Cape Town family was on Friday night desperately searching for their little girl who disappeared from outside the family home on Thursday morning.

                               Courtney Peters, 3 Picture: Supplied

Three-year-old Courtney Peters was last seen by a neighbour playing alone on a corner near her Pluto Street home in Elsies River.

The girl was wearing a white and yellow T-shirt with blue shorts, and was barefoot at the time of her disappearance.

Courtney has brown eyes and medium-length, dark brown hair which was braided in two plaits and tied with baubles.

She was supposed to have been in the care of her backyard neighbours, but was reportedly left unsupervised when she disappeared.

Statistics released by Missing Children SA this week showed the organisation saw an increase in cases between May 1, 2016 and April 30 this year.

A total of 304 adults and 181 children were reported missing nationally during that time. Of those, 167 adults and 145 children were found.

“We have an overall success rate of 64%. For the children’s cases alone, our success rate is 80%. It is an unfortunate reality that 9% of the children found again were found deceased,” national co-ordinator Bianca van Aswegen said.

“It is so very difficult. Young children are such easy targets to be taken.”

While high-profile missing cases like that of Jamiel Daniels, 4, who was last seen in Macassar in February 2013, and Shasha-Lee November, 6, who disappeared in Hanover Park in May 2015, have made headlines, the number of missing children whose stories remain untold is worrying, said Dessie Rechner of the Pink Ladies missing children organisation. She said cases of missing children were reported to the organisation from around the country daily.

Shasha-Lee November. Picture: Supplied

“Statistically, there’s a 93% recovery rate on these cases, which means these children are found in time and returned to their families. However, we’ve had a few nasty cases of late – especially in the Western Cape – where missing kids have been found murdered.”

Rechner said children living in areas where drugs and crime were commonplace, were most susceptible to abduction.

“We do everything we can to try to find these children. But the communities really must be commended, especially seeing the ways in which they rally together to find these children,” Rechner said. She added the search for Courtney was continuing, with hundreds of community members having joined in it yesterday.

Anyone with information is requested to contact Warrant Officer Lawrence on 079 894 0107 or Elsies River SAPS on 021 933 0308.

Weekend Argus