A 19-year-old man has been referred for mental observation after he told the High Court in Pretoria he had killed a seven-year-old boy because his ancestors had told him to do it.
Degryt Sam Khoza, of Majakaneng in the North West, initially pleaded guilty to charges of kidnapping and murdering sevenyear-old Tebogo Melamu.
But Judge Bert Bam said he was not prepared to proceed with the trial unless he had certainty about the accused’s mental capacity at the time of the incident and if he had acted under some form of duress or pressure.
Khoza admitted in a statement that he had in January 2015 lured the little boy away from his parents’ home at the Wawiel squatter camp near Brits.
He then took the child into the bush and stabbed him with a knife several times until the child could not breathe. He left the boy and the knife in the bush and went home after the child died. The boy’s parents started searching for him the same day, but his body was only discovered three days later.
By that stage, the body was so badly decomposed that the DNA of his parents had to be used to identify him. The cause of the child’s death could not be established due to the advanced decomposition of his body.
According to Khoza’s statement, he had killed the child because he had a vision in his sleep that if he killed someone, he would get rich. The boy had been an easy target for him and that’s why he had wanted to kill him. Khoza admitted that he knew all along his actions were wrongful and unlawful.
Bam asked Khoza why he had proceeded if he knew it was wrong to kill the child and he answered: “I was shown by my ancestors that this was what I needed to do.”
Judge Bam said he had reservations about the accused’s mental capacity. It was a senseless murder and the accused apparently tried to convey to the court that he had acted compulsively. It would be in the interests of justice to refer Khoza for mental observation, he said. – firstname.lastname@example.org