A traumatised New Brighton schoolgirl – just six years old – lies on a bed in agony with fresh stitches to her face, head and body while her distraught mother tells of her daughter’s terrifying ordeal at the hands of a would-be killer.
The little victim of a monstrous crime was abducted, raped, savagely stabbed within an inch of her life and callously tossed among the rubbish at a dumpsite.
The Grade 1 pupil and her best friend had been playing in a street not far from their homes near Struanway when they were lured away by a man who asked them to go to a shop for him.
The five-year-old friend was also raped, gagged and had her hands tied. She was discovered early on Thursday in a shack where their alleged assailant was also found – passed out on a sofa – in the Chris Hani informal settlement.
“I am devastated. My only wish is that my daughter gets well soon. It’s hurting,” the six-year-old’s mother said. “How can a human being do this to her?”
The 27-year-old mother said Wednesday’s savage attack had enraged the entire community, who were now baying for the blood of the suspect who is in police custody.
Angry resident Nopinki Funani, 35, said the community was disgusted by the crime.
“This monster came from Vuku Street, New Brighton, and arrived here in November.
“He was someone who liked drinking and making jokes and drove jikeleza taxis. This has come as a shock to us. We are angry. The police must release him to us for justice to be served.”
The attack occurred when the two friends were playing in a street near their homes just after 5.30pm on Wednesday, said the mother, who had pieced together events after talking to her daughter.
“The suspect approached the girls. He gave them R5, saying they must go to a shop to buy him some chips. Upon their return, he told the girls to accompany him so that he could show them where he stayed,” she said.
The mother said that when the children entered the nearby shack, the suspect immediately locked the door, telling them they were not going home.
While her friend was left tied up and gagged in the shack, the man took the terrified six-year-old to a nearby stadium, where she was raped and stabbed and had a rope tied around her neck.
“Later that day, the mother of the five-year-old approached me looking for her daughter, to which I responded that I thought the girls were playing at her house. The matter was immediately reported to the police.”
About 80 residents and a number of police officers, including K9 search and rescue, detectives and others, as well as the police helicopter, combed a large area throughout the night, until both girls were found – the six-year-old shortly after midnight in the dumpsite and the other in the shack just before 5am.
“While at the hospital, my daughter told us that her friend was in the house of the suspect. When the police got there, the girl – who was still tied up – was lying on the bed while this guy who had been drinking and smoking was passed out on the sofa. He was then arrested.”
Meanwhile, the family of seven-year-old Sonia Payi – who was abducted, raped and murdered in the same vicinity just over a year ago – yesterday spoke of that devastating crime with its similar characteristics to this week’s attack. No arrest was ever made.
The Payi family, of Mbilini Street, New Brighton, believe the suspect arrested on Thursday is linked to Sonia’s murder.
“It’s painful,” said Sonia’s mother Bongiwe Payi, 32. “What he [the suspect allegedly] did to the two girls is similar to what [happened] to Sonia.”
Sonia, a Grade 2 pupil at Bhongweni Primary School, was snatched by an unknown man after leaving her house with a six-year-old friend to buy chips from a nearby shop on September 3 last year. The abductor had given the six-year-old 50 cents, told her to buy sweets, and walked away with Sonia .
On Thursday, the Payi family organised a memorial service following the first anniversary of Sonia’s death.
The family criticised the police for not updating them on progress with the investigation into her murder.
“The police are dragging their feet. We have been let down by the justice system,” Bongiwe said.
However, police spokesman Captain Andre Beetge said Sonia’s murder case was still open. “But now we will be looking into a possible link between the incidents of last year and the current matter.”