“The Diepsloot community will be much safer with the accused jailed,” she said in a statement.
High Court in Pretoria Judge Nico Coetzee sentenced Hadebe to nine life terms and 15 years’ imprisonment for three murders, six rapes, and three kidnappings.
In September 2013 he murdered Anelisa Mkhonto, aged five. The next month he murdered Yonelisa Mali, aged two, and her cousin Zandile, aged three, in Diepsloot, north of Johannesburg.
“We want to thank the team of investigators who have worked tirelessly around the clock until the arrest of Ntokozo,” Phiyega said.
“We will also not forget to thank the members of the community who assisted with information that led to the arrest of the suspect at the time.”
The court found Hadebe lured the girls from their homes and took them to his shack, where he raped them vaginally and anally before suffocating or strangling them.
He took Anelisa’s body to a nearby rubbish dump, a plastic bag tied over her head. He left the bodies of the cousins in a public toilet.
Government welcomes sentence
“This sentencing is a clear indication that government will not tolerate crime against children,” acting communications department director general Donald Liphoko said in a statement.
“Combating crime and the scourge of women and children abuse remains the government’s priority.”
“We applaud the South African judicial system and law enforcement agencies for their tireless efforts in ensuring that justice is served,” said Liphoko.
He urged communities to work with police and report criminal activities.