Two life terms for man who raped, killed child and blamed crime on two innocent men
Johannesburg – A man who raped and killed a child, 9, then pinned the crime on two men whose houses were torched by an angry community, has been handed two life sentences.
Phillip Mailula, 27, who raped the girl and strangled her to death, was on Friday sentenced in the Mpumalanga Division of the High Court sitting at Kwaggafontein.
Police spokesperson Brigadier Leonard Hlathi said on Monday that Mailula raped the girl and strangled her to death, and then hid her body in the bushes in Mametlhake.
He said the court heard how after the “heinous“ act, Mailula returned to his house pretending nothing had happened.
“He was later struck by guilt but, still engulfed by denial, he managed to disclose to someone. However, he changed the facts and mentioned that he instead saw two men committing the murder and rape against the young girl.
“Moments later, the story broke and spread around the community after the discovery of the girl’s body and police were immediately summoned.”
Hlathi said the family told the police they were still waiting to report their child as missing when they received news her body had been found.
A murder case was opened and police started with investigations that revealed the child had also been raped. He said Mailula was questioned about the crime but he instead blamed two men, aged 47 and 44, as the perpetrators.
“The two men were duly arrested but were later released as they were vindicated because they could not be linked to the crime. Their release was not well received by the community which went on the rampage and torched the two men’s houses.
“Police were not spared from the anger of the community as they were thought to have received some form of bribery hence the two men were set free.
“Unbeknown to the community, the culprit was freely roaming the streets thinking that the score has been settled. ”
Hlathi said police’s relentlessness to find the perpetrator paid off when they reverted back to Mailula for further re-examination.
“He became overwhelmed and confessed. He was then apprehended and released on bail where he absconded. A warrant of arrest was issued against him.
“He was traced and police rearrested him. On Monday 14, September 2020, Mailula pleaded guilty.
“When handing down the judgement, Judge Thando Mankge said that the sentence should send a strong message to the public and serve as a deterrent to other criminals intending to commit similar offences, especially at this time when the country fight Gender Based Violence.
“The judge further indicated that this country cannot be free unless children are free.”
Mpumalanga Police Commissioner Lieutenant General Zuma said he was elated with the work done by the investigating team, the prosecution as well as the judiciary.
He also called on the community not to take the law into their own hands in such circumstances.