CAPE TOWN - THE murder of a one-legged, homeless woman on the grounds of the Wynberg Military base allegedly at the hands of the son of a South African Defence Force member living on the premises, has left activists outraged.
Brigadier General Andries Mokoena, spokesperson for the Department of Defence said: “The Department of Defence (DoD) confirms that the arrested suspect in the above mentioned crime is not a member of the DoD, but is the son of a DoD member residing in the Wynberg Military Base.”
Melissa Bianca Dale was a common face at the robots and intersections of Rosmead Avenue.
The Ministerial offices of Social Development and Police Oversight have condemned the murder
Police spokesperson Warrant Officer Joseph Swartbooi, said that when police arrived at the scene they found Dale's body amongst the bushes on the premises of the military base on June 15.
“The victim was declared deceased on the scene by the medical personnel,” he said.
“We can confirm that a 23-year-old male has since been arrested and detained. Wynberg police are investigating a murder.”
Eric Ntabazalila of the National Prosecuting Authority confirmed that Amaruh Lewis made his first appearance in court on a charge of murder and was granted bail.
“The State opposed the accused’s release on bail but the court, after hearing evidence, granted the accused bail pending his trial.
“The accused is not an SANDF member but was living at the Military base at the time of the offence.”
Lewis is expected back in court on September 13, for further investigation.”
Zona Morton, a human rights activist said they were outraged because the murder was allegedly “swept under the carpet”, and called for justice.
“I am deeply disturbed about this case of a disabled lady with one leg who was brutally murdered and her body dumped like she was nothing,” she said.
“This horrific act happened at a Military Base filled with members who should be protecting our civilians.
“What were Melissa's last moments? Did she scream for help and (did) members of SANDF just close their ears and turn a blind eye to this happening under their noses on the Wynberg Military Base ?
“Melissa was known by many who cared for her while she begged at a robot in Rosmead Avenue.
“This fateful evening she had to beg for her life,” Morton said.
Morton mentioned a similar case, that of Nontsizi Tom who was raped inside her home in Philippi allegedly by an SANDF member in 2020.
The case was withdrawn due to the unavailability of DNA evidence because of a backlog at the time.
“She was also failed by the system as she died eight months after being raped,” said Morton.
Western Cape Minister of Police Oversight and Community Safety, Reagen Allen, raised the issue of the high rate of femicide in the Western Cape.
"This heinous crime cannot go unpunished. I urge the investigators and prosecutors to ensure that the ones responsible for this barbaric act are brought to book,” he said.
“The 4th quarter crime statistics, January to March 2023, revealed that 100 women were murdered during this period.
“This might be 36 fewer when compared to the same period of the previous year, but it is 100 too many. “
MEC for Social Development Sharna Fernandez said she had been informed about the murder a week ago.
“The scourge of gender-based violence continues to affect the most vulnerable, in this case, a homeless woman,” she said.
“I am deeply shocked and saddened that yet another woman has lost her life in such a brutal way. I condemn the actions of the perpetrator and hope justice prevails.”