The mother of five-year-old Anovuyo Ndamase shook her head in disbelief as the Western Cape High Court on Monday acquitted Bongani Dlamini of rape and kidnapping charges.
Western Cape High Court judge Ashley Binns-Ward had convicted the 34-year-old man of murder, describing him as a “poor and unconvincing witness”, but said he could not convict him on the kidnapping charge, as the difficulty was “one has no idea whatsoever how the child came to be in the accused’s house”.
On the rape charge, he said there was “no direct evidence that the accused sexually penetrated the deceased”, but the fact that the accused’s semen was found on his duvet inner and on a pillow cover also stained with the child’s blood “certainly gives cause for suspicion”.
Anovuyo went missing in Khayelitsha on Sunday March 1, 2015. Her mother, Kholeka Ndamase, realised she was no longer playing outside when she emerged from her house after an hour-long meeting.
The little girl’s shoes were lying outside, but there was no sign of Anovuyo herself.
The community immediately started searching for the child, and the case was reported to police, who also became involved in the search later that evening.
The search continued until March 5 when the child’s naked body was discovered stuffed in a bag, along with her clothes, behind the house of a man who lived about three houses away from the accused.
Captain Marius Joubert, attached to the police’s Forensic Crime Laboratory, testified during the trial that a large hammer found hidden behind a bed base had the blood of the deceased on it.
He also testifed that the DNA of both the deceased and the accused was found on the hammer. Blood spatter from the child was also found on the accused’s bedroom wall.
The hammer was found to be the murder weapon, and the cause of death was blunt force trauma to the head.
Dlamini pleaded not guilty to all three of the charges he faced and instead tended a plea explanation claiming that he had woken up on Monday, March 2, and discovered the child’s body in his house.
He said he had been “shocked, petrified and could not think straight” and did not want to report the matter to police, as he was afraid they would think he had killed her. He also said he didn’t want to tell the community, as he was afraid they would take the law into their own hands.
Judge Binns-Ward dismissed Dlamini’s version. “The notion that someone could have brought the child to his house after he had retired for the night, killed her in the storeroom and then bundled her up in a series of bags and then moved these to his bedroom without disturbing him is highly improbable.”
He said the evidence suggested that once Dlamini killed the child, “he initially concealed her body between the mattress and one of the base sets in the storeroom, and that he later stowed the body inside a series of bags with the intention of dumping it in such a way that it would be taken away in the municipal garbage collection”.
Dlamini has continued to insist that he is innocent. Testifying in mitigation of sentence, he told the court that he sympathised with the parents, but had nothing to do with the child’s murder.
When state prosecutor Alta Collopy told him he had a “golden opportunity” to apologise to the child’s family, he insisted: “I did not do it, even though it happened in my house. The child was taken by God.”
The case was postponed until October 24 to give the state time to obtain victim impact reports.
– African News Agency (ANA)