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. She had gone missing the previous night. Picture: Supplied
Cape Town – One of the four men arrested in connection with the murder of four-year-old Iyapha Yamile is the father of the friend she was playing with at the time of her disappearance.

The man Iyapha’s family identified as a suspect, as his pants were stained in blood believed to be Iyapha’s, should have been her protector as he knew her, said her aunt Nomakhazi Yamile.

Iyapha’s body was found in a plastic bag a stone’s throw from her aunt’s home in Zone 14, Town Two Khayelitsha on Monday.

She resided at SST informal settlement, where 19-year-old Sinoxolo Mafevuka was murdered in March last year. Mafevuka’s half-naked body was dumped in a communal toilet.

The father who was arrested also resided at SST informal settlement, but his girlfriend resided at Zone 14 and was a neighbour of the Iyapha’s aunt.

Three shacks where the four suspects aged between 20 and 30 resided were set alight and destroyed after angry residents went on the rampage following the discovery of Iyapha’s body.

Read: Missing 4-year-old girl found murdered
Four arrested for Iyapha's murder

Ward councillor Patrick Mngxunyeni said residents had been aware that the house where Iyapha was last seen was alleged to have been a tik den. He warned they would visit all the houses suspected of being involved in illegal activities.

“We tried our best to intervene on Tuesday to the reaction of the community based on the incident because we also need to respect the law. That was adhered to in my presence. I left the scene, but later received a call that the community came back after the police left and started burning two shacks,” he said.

Mngxunyeni said the suspects were not safe as the level of emotion was “very high” in the community.

“Whoever was part of the incident and is still in the community, I do not think they are safe. I am saying as a parent not just as a leader, I do not accept what had happened here A four-year-old to be brutally killed like this is totally unacceptable. We will have to join hands and fight such incidents. This needs not to happen again,” he said.

The family on Tuesday had alleged that the father of Iyapha’s friend had apparently told the police to go away as he had nothing to do with the incident and the police left, but later returned to arrest him.

Iyapha’s father, Danile, said they had attended a counselling session on Tuesday. “I needed counselling mostly for my child. Iyapha’s older sister was not reacting the way I had expected her to react to the news.

“She did not cry but you can see that her spirit was down. I was not sure whether she was in denial or what. I tried making her understand what had happened but she did not react to that,” he said.

He said residents were angered by the fact that one of the suspects was the father of the victim’s friend.

The Khayelitsha Development Forum visited the family on Tuesday to show its support and to make arrangements for Iyapha’s memorial service.

Cape Times