Johannesburg – Pensioner Joseph Mpanza last saw his granddaughter in her usual jovial and free-spirited mood late last week. On Sunday, he returned to their home in Katlehong, Ekurhuleni to heartbreaking news that she had gone missing.
Mpanza was inconsolable on Wednesday, knowing he would never see his beloved eight-year-old granddaughter Nonkululeko Mpanza alive again.
The butchered remains of Nonkululeko were found along with those of her nine-year-old friend, Nompumelelo Mhlongo, on Monday.
Both had been hacked to pieces, and their remains stuffed into a bag and dumped in bushes on a deserted piece of land in a section of Katlehong that has been without electricity for several months.
Police said the two children were last seen playing together on Sunday afternoon, not far from their home.
A community member discovered the bodies in a clump of bushes and overgrown grass on a piece of land enclosed with a concrete palisade.
A heartbroken Mpanza said: “I went to a funeral in Ulundi in KwaZulu-Natal. When I arrived home on Sunday afternoon, I was told that the two children were missing.
“We searched everywhere for them, until we were told they had been found dead,” he said.
Mpanza said he would miss his granddaughter’s happy personality.
“That child was an angel. She had a wonderful spirit. And she always listened when reprimanded.”
He called on the authorities to allocate the deserted land for housing.
“They should give people this space to build houses on. In that way, no one can kill children and dump them there.
“This person killed them somewhere and threw them there,” said an emotional Mpanza.
The Star arrived on the scene just as a police forensic team were finishing combing it for clues.
As soon as the police left, angry community members knocked down the palisade fence.
Katlehong residents have nicknamed the notorious space “the jungle”, because bad things happen there.
“Let it fall. They kill our children here,” one woman shouted while a group of men knocked the fence down.
The bodies were found in a part of Katlehong that has had no electricity for the past three months.
Eskom switched the electricity off because residents don’t want the municipal prepaid split meters.
Residents said the murderer had taken advantage of the darkness.
“It’s very dark by 6pm. You can’t see anything.
“If the area was properly lit up, maybe we would have seen him dumping the bodies here,” said Dimakatso Zwane.
“He came here because he knows there’s no electricity. They (Eskom) ate money with the Guptas. Now they want the money from us. We don’t want these split meters.”
Gauteng Premier David Makhura on Wednesday said his government was outraged at Eskom’s decision to leave the area in the dark.
“The executive council has resolved to institute urgent legal proceedings to force Eskom to restore electricity supply to the area,” said Thabo Masebe, spokesperson for the legislature.
The increase in the number of children who go missing and are later found dead is cause for grave concern.
Nonkululeko and Nompumelelo were the latest victims.
Just this month, 10-year-old Katlego Joja was found dead near a river in Mamelodi West, Tshwane.
The girl-child murders are also occurring at a time when femicide is escalating.
The Star on Wednesday reported on the heinous murder of 31-year-old Lindiwe Sibiya, who was stabbed 17 times, allegedly by her husband Prince Khumalo. He denies killing her.
Mangosuthu University of Technology student Zolile Khumalo was shot dead in her residence, allegedly by her boyfriend, Thabani Mzoli, two weeks ago.
An angry Nomathemba Mndaweni, a Katlehong resident, said men who murder women deserve capital punishment. They seemed undeterred by jail sentences, she said.
“If they find the man who killed these children, he’ll get 32 years (in jail) and he’ll come back to rape and kill again,” she said.