Keleabetse Seleka’s body was found in a pit toilet a month after she went missing. The 15-year-old’s body was so decomposed the cause of death could not be established.
But one of the accused, John Lekubu, 31, of Brazzaville, in his explanation of plea, said he saw how his co-accused Tebogo Mabulana had strangled her with a shoelace in his shack, while their two co-accused held her down.
Mabulana, 32, Lesole Mashao, 26, and Eugene Machete, 24, and Lekubu, all of Brazzaville, pleaded not guilty to an array of charges, including murder. While Lekubu admitted that he stole Seleka’s cellphone which was on the floor, he denied he had anything to do with her death. Machete claimed he was in Limpopo at the time.
Lekubu stated in his plea explanation that his co-accused lived next door to him and his wife and children. He said Mabulana one day asked him how he (Lekubu) had met his girlfriend. “I told him I met her via Facebook. He asked me to help find him a girlfriend. On November 28, 2016, the deceased, acting on an advertisement I placed on Facebook, arrived at my house in Brazzaville. I was not aware she was a minor.”
Lekubu said he took her to his neighbour’s shack. According to him Mabulana took the teenager into his shack and closed the door. They came out after about 10 minutes and Lekubu said Mabulana was smiling. The latter then said “it was not the girl they were looking for”.
Lekubu said Machete went to buy food for all of them, including the teenager. After she ate the food, she complained of stomach cramps and she started rolling around on the ground, moaning.
Lekubu said he went home, but returned to his neighbour’s house when he realised he left his child’s bottle there. He saw nobody but noticed the phone on the ground, which he took.
He said he heard groans from inside the shack and peeped through an opening. He was so shocked when he saw his co-accused strangling the woman “until she became quite still”, that he went back to his home.
He said he later that night saw Mabulana and Mashao carrying a big garbage bag on their shoulders. Machete, he said, told his friends to hurry up. He saw them depositing the bag in an outside toilet.
“They told me not to tell anybody about the girl I brought there. Mabulana had a firearm with him and Mashao was playing with a knife. They threatened to kill my family if I said anything.”
Keleabetse’s mother, Florence Seleka, received a call from the police a month after her daughter’s disappearance that they had arrested a suspect. When she got there she recognised Lekubu as being the person in the advertisement. He took the police to Keleabetse’s body.