Behind Bars: in the court holding cells is a 37-year-old Isaac Modise Motapane, who is stands trial for raping and kidnapping and killing a foeu(4) year old in Katlehong late lasy year. Palm Ridge court. 10.02.2013 Picture:Dumisani Dube

Johannesburg - First, he allegedly raped the four-year-old, then strangled her with string, before hanging her body on the wall of a dilapidated building in Katlehong, Ekurhuleni.

The crime took place in September last year when Keabetswe Tshabalala failed to return home after being seen playing with friends.

The search for Keabetswe began soon after her mother Keneiwe realised her little girl was missing.

Keneiwe went to call her for her bath at about 2pm, and when she couldn’t find her, was worried.

The search went on until the next morning, when her body was discovered.

On Monday, according to evidence in the Johannesburg High Court sitting in the Palm Ridge Magistrate’s Court, the accused, Isaac Modise Motapane, later joined the victim’s relatives in the search.

Motapane pleaded not guilty to charges of kidnapping, rape and murder. He did not give a plea explanation.

The State called Keneiwe first. She told the court the accused had volunteered to assist the family in the search for the girl.

Keneiwe said Motapane, 37, told both her and the girl’s grandmother not to go looking for the girl alone as it was not safe for them to do so.

“He said we could not go into (the) bushes alone as we are both (women) and that it was not safe for us,” Keneiwe said.

She said the man led the search to the veld and later took them to a building where Keabetswe was found.

“He walked two paces inside the building, and as we followed him, he shouted ‘Oh, here is the child’.

“I requested the (dead girl’s) grandmother to confirm whether indeed it was Keabetswe,” Keneiwe said, holding back tears.

She told the court that her daughter was found wearing her T-shirt half on.

Her other clothes were found on the floor, next to her body.

Keneiwe said she had run back home to tell the rest of the family what she had seen at the building site.

The accused and the girl’s grandmother followed her back home.

Keneiwe said Motapane and the girl’s grandmother went with her to the police station to give statements.

The court also heard that the accused had visited Keabetswe’s yard on the day of her disappearance.

The man had been watching movies with the girl’s relatives.

The court heard that the accused was known to the family and visited their home frequently.

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