Pretoria - The family of Katlego “Katli” Joja, the 10-year-old autistic girl who went missing last week and whose body was found floating in the Moretele River, thanked South Africans for their love and support during a protest led by #NotInMyNameSA on Wednesday.
"I believe that what other speakers have been saying is enough. Let us fight this because it is painful. It is really painful, it's as if someone is cutting into you with a knife. But with your support, the family will stand strong," the little girl's aunt Tebogo Lebelo told protesters at Mamelodi police station, east of Pretoria.
"You have done a lot for us, we are able to say thank you from the bottom of my heart. To everybody who is here, I would like to say thank you very much. Katli was never a sinner, she had not insulted anyone because our poor Katli could not even say a word."
"Katli" went missing last Thursday.
Her mother was the last person to see her when she walked to the nursery school inside the yard.
The family only realised that she was missing when her grandmother, who runs the nursery school, asked where Katli was. After searching the yard and the neighbouring houses they reported her missing to police.
The family was reportedly turned away and told they had to wait for 24 hours.
The family then launched a search for the child, and printed pamphlets which were circulated around Mamelodi.
The child's body was found on Sunday. Her body has been taken to a mortuary for an autopsy to be performed to establish cause of death.
On Wednesday, station commander for the Mamelodi police Brigadier Lungiswa Tshayana received the #NotInMyName memorandum and promised the crowd that the case would received maximum attention.
"After receiving this memorandum, we will sit together and take decisions, and respond to all the concerns that have been raised in the memorandum. We have heard your concerns, and in the spirit of Katlego, let us disperse in peace. Thank you," said Tshayana.
It is not clear what happened to Katlego, and circumstances around her death are yet to be confirmed.
Mamelodi police spokesperson Captain Johannes Maheso referred all media queries to Gauteng police spokesman Captain Kay, who could not be reached for comment.
Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is a neurological and developmental disorder that begins early in childhood and lasts throughout a person's life. It affects how a person acts and interacts with others, communicates, and learns.
African News Agency/ANA