Diepsloot girls’ ordeal relived
The severe injuries suffered by cousins Yonelisa, 2, and Zandile Mali, 3, to their private parts indicated that the pair were brutally penetrated before their lifeless bodies were dumped in a toilet in Diepsloot.
The two little girls were strangled to death, but they also suffered multiple lacerations and other injuries across their bodies. Some bite marks were caused after death – apparently by animals gnawing at their bodies.
This is according to medical evidence presented in the Gauteng Provincial Division of the High Court in Pretoria on Wednesday during the trial of Ntokozo Radebe.
The deaths of the cousins, as well as that of 5-year-old Anelisa Mkhonto last year, sent shockwaves through the Diepsloot community.
Anelisa was raped and strangled to death about a month before Yonelisa and Zandile were raped and killed. The half-naked bodies of the cousins were found in a public toilet in Diepsloot a few days after they went missing.
Anelisa was found next to a dustbin in Diepsloot. She had also been raped – both vaginally and anally, like the cousins – before a blue plastic bag was pulled over her head.
Radebe has pleaded not guilty to 12 charges – six of rape and three of murder and another three of kidnapping.
He denied that he had anything to do with the deaths of the children and his advocate told Judge Nico Coetzee that the State had to prove its case.
Two witnesses, however, testified that they saw Radebe with two little girls at a spaza shop in Diepsloot on October 12 last year, shortly after the cousins went missing.
Radebe had bought himself a beer and a lollipop sweet for each child, before he left the shop.
Shop assistant Cynthia Khwalu testified she estimated them to be under 5 years of age.
She said after giving each child a sweet, Radebe, who lived nearby, left. She again saw him a few minutes later walking past the shop. This time without the children.
The State claimed that he had raped and killed the children in his nearby shack, before dumping their bodies in a toilet.
His neighbour, Sindiswa Thembeni, also bumped into Radebe in the spaza shop that afternoon and told him she did not know he had children. She testified he told her the children were those of another woman, who was about to join them.
She said he bought them each a sweet after she told him to do so. He had bought himself a beer.
Thembeni later heard about the cousins who went missing, but did not have the courage to go to where they were found to see if she could recognise them.
Through his advocate, Radebe denied ever being in the presence of the children at the shop. But both women were adamant they saw him with the children. Thembeni insisted that “they were the same children found in the toilet”.
“He is responsible for the murder of the two children,” she said.
She later led the police to Radebe’s shack.
Yonelisa’s mother, Thokozani Mali, said she was dressed in a nappy, pink tights, a white T-shirt and sandals when she went missing. Her cousin was clad in a green vest, a denim skirt and purple panties.
A policeman called to the toilet said both girls were naked from waist down when found.
Mali said the community searched for days in vain, before the pair were found.
Bongiwe Nxubuse, grandmother of Anelisa, cried loudly as she described how waste removal workers came to tell her a child had been found next to a dump. “They came to my door and asked what she was wearing. When I told them, they said she had been found and was dead.”
The elderly woman testified how her quiet and shy granddaughter disappeared – also on a Saturday – after she went to play with her friends. Members of the community and the police searched for days, before refuse collectors discovered the lifeless body. “She was a humble, quiet child. I don’t know how someone managed to lure her away,” the granny said. The cousins were due to start crèché this year, while Anelisa was due to start school.
Radebe appeared relaxed on Wednesday as he listened to the evidence and stretched out in the dock a few times.