Student murder twist

Lynn Williams

A BREAKTHROUGH by crack Port Elizabeth detectives has linked a rape suspect, arrested last week, to the brutal murder of a promising Rhodes University student, which shocked the Eastern Cape.

Lelona Fufu, 23, of Motherwell, Port Elizabeth, was murdered while hitch-hiking to her graduation ceremony in Grahamstown three weeks ago, devastating her family and friends.

Although police are not divulging details of the crucial discovery of a “personal belonging” of the murdered woman which helped them make the link, it is understood Fufu’s spectacles are linked to the all- important development.

The 28-year-old suspect is being held at St Albans Prison in connection with an unrelated rape charge.

The Motherwell man cannot be named until he appears in court.

Police spokesman Captain Andre Beetge said the man had been arrested in connection with a rape case in Kamvelihle.

The alleged rape was committed after the Fufu murder.

During the investigation of the rape case, a Motherwell policeman started to suspect a link to the Fufu murder.

Beetge said the detective had told the Swartkops murder and robbery unit of his suspicions because he knew they were investigating the Fufu case.

Swartkops police station head of detectives Captain Christo van As said his team had got to work immediately.

“We brought the suspect in for questioning and followed up all possible leads to find evidence linking him to the murder. The team left no stone unturned,” Van As said.

Their breakthrough came on Friday morning when they allegedly found proof that the suspect had been in possession of one of Fufu’s personal belongings at one stage.

Van As did not want to reveal what the item was, where they had found it or whether the suspect had led them to it.

Fufu’s mother, Bongeka, said that when the police told the family about the breakthrough they had asked about a pair of spectacles which had belonged to her daughter.

“The police wanted to know the type of glasses, what the frame looked like, the colour and the model number.

“My daughter was short- sighted and wore prescription lenses. I called my optometrist and asked him to pull her file.

“They were able to tell me they were Vogue glasses. They also gave me the model number, the colour and the number of the frame. I gave all of this information to the police.”

Bongeka praised the police for their tireless efforts.

“I am happy they caught someone,” she said.

“Whoever did this snatched my daughter’s young life away from her and left us all shattered. She had such a promising future.

“All we are left with are our memories and broken hearts. I hope the perpetrator is jailed for life.”

Fufu left home by taxi on April 12 – a day before the graduation – at about 2.30pm to go to a hitch-hiking point in Motherwell. She was meant to collect her graduation gown before the shop closed at 5pm.

Her family had planned to join her later and tried to contact her several times before leaving Port Elizabeth.

Bongeka and her husband, Ndoyisile John, Fufu’s sisters Akhona, 25, and Lelethu, 20, and grandmother Sylvia arrived in Grahamstown that night and rushed to the clothing shop to try to find her.

When they got there, the owners gave them the still-uncollected graduation gown.

It was not until the ceremony that Bongeka’s worst fears were confirmed.

Fufu completed her extended-studies BSc at the end of 2010, majoring in mathematics and mathematical statistics.

Last year, she read for a joint honours degree in mathematics and mathematical statistics. She obtained 72%.

Bongeka said she wanted to thank each and every person, including members of the media, the mayor, various churches, Rhodes University staff, family and colleagues, who had shown compassion during their time of grief.

Beetge said the police investigation was continuing.

He could not say when the suspect would appear in court.

The police did not exclude the possibility that more than one person could have been involved in the murder.

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