Cape Town - Two men have been set free over the kidnapping, rape and murder of a 6-year-old girl.
Asemahle Ntsabo went missing while playing outside her home in Mbekweni, Paarl, on January 21, 2012.
Her skeletal remains were discovered two months later in a field about an hour’s walk from her home.
The State contended that three men had conspired to kidnap, kill and remove Asemahle’s body parts. The prosecution also alleged that she had been raped.
Two of the three, however, were discharged in the Western Cape High Court on Tuesday following the close of the State’s case.
Langa Mbijana and Phumelele Nodede smiled as they left the court and were met by their respective lawyers, advocate Sheriff Mohamed and attorney Saleem Halday.
“I am very happy,” said Mbijana, adding that he was “angry” that he was ever suspected of the crime.
“I don’t believe it,” said a relieved Nodede, who told of having been in police custody since May 2012.
Both said that they did not plan to return to Mbekweni.
Acting Judge Roseline Nyman found that the only relevant incriminating evidence against Mbijana was a statement in which he’d said that he had “strangled her” and that it had not been his “intention to kill her”. The statement, Acting Judge Nyman said, did not amount to a confession because it did not constitute unequivocal proof of guilt, nor was he admitting to all the elements of the crime.
“In the absence of corroborating evidence, a reasonable person would not convict (Mbijana) on the sole basis of this statement,” she said.
When it came to Nodede, Acting Judge Nyman found that there was no evidence that placed him at the scene of the crime or linked him to Asemahle’s disappearance.
The trial of the third accused, Songezo Deleki Mpitolo, represented by advocate Mohamed Sibda, is expected to go ahead.
It was postponed to Wednesday.