The gruesome murder of a 12-year-old girl who was raped, bludgeoned to death with a spade and then buried in a shallow grave has resulted in two of her close family members being sentenced to stiff jail terms.
Judge Vivian Thlapi last week in the High Court sitting in KwaMhlanga sentenced a 24-year-old woman to 35 years’ imprisonment, of which she has to serve 15 years, on charges of murder, defeating the ends of justice and rape. Her 20-year-old family member, who was still a minor when the crimes were committed, was sentenced to 27 years’ imprisonment, of which he has to serve 12 years.
Their names will also be entered into the register of sex offenders. The court found that the accused had in December 2013 murdered and raped a 12-year-old family member and then tried to hide what they did by burying the child’s body in a shallow grave in the yard outside.
The accused had gone to the young girl’s room, picked her up where she was sleeping, hit her repeatedly with a spade and raped her before digging a shallow hole in the back yard and burying her.
The woman denied having anything to do with the child’s death, but her cousin admitted that he had killed, raped and buried the girl, although he insisted the woman made him do it and had threatened to kill him. The child was last seen playing and singing hymns in the yard with friends. Other family members called the police when they realised she was missing the next morning and saw blood stains leading to the neighbour’s toilet, where they found clothes and a spade.
When the police investigated, they found the child’s body buried nearby. The State submitted that the attack on the defenceless girl had been brutal and degrading and that the court was left in the dark about the motive for the crimes because both accused pleaded not guilty and maintained their innocence.
The State asked for life sentences for both accused, but the defence argued that both were still young when the crimes were committed, were first offenders and could be rehabilitated. The woman also has young children, who are now being raised by family members.
The man has been found guilty of attempted murder and rape in another matter, where he is still awaiting sentence.