Xolani Lantu was sentenced to three life terms and five years for the kidnap, rape and murder of Minentle Lekhatha. Picture: Zodidi Dano
Cape Town - Xolani Lantu was a granite cutter, had three previous convictions for house-breaking and in a relationship with 5-year-old Minentle Lekhatha’s grandmother when he raped and killed her.

During the trial in the Western Cape High Court, the father of five children aged between 5 and 14, admitted to killing the little girl who “trusted him and called him chomi” (friend).

He blamed alcohol for his actions.

However, during sentencing this week, Judge Derek Wille said alcohol consumption failed to justify a deviation from the minimum prescribed sentence of life imprisonment, adding that the accused had shown no remorse.

Lantu was given three life terms for the murder and rape, and an additional five years for the kidnapping. His sentences will run concurrently.

National Prosecuting Authority spokesperson Eric Ntabazalila they welcomed the sentencing of Lantu.

Minentle went missing on June 3 last year when she was playing outside her home, just off Ntanga Road, in Nomzamo, Strand.

After an extensive search her lifeless body was found in a faeces and rock-filled stream running under a 5m-long bridge along the Soet River.

Judge Wille told the court that Lantu, 36, had only confessed to his crimes when CCTV footage, which clearly showed him carrying Minentle to the bridge and later returning without her, came to light.

“She trusted this man, and he takes her away, brutally rapes her twice and then chokes her to death,” he said.

Minentle’s grandmother, Thelma Bomela, 50, and Lantu had broken up just before Minentle went missing.

“My soul was and still remains shattered by what he has done,” said the grandmother, who had raised the child from birth.

Minentle’s mother, Thandisiwe Lekhatha, told the court she could never forgive Lantu. “His apology is not going to bring her back.”

[email protected]

Weekend Argus