Twelve days after 9-year-old Boipelo Sesele went missing, her tiny body was found stuffed in a neighbour’s wardrobe in Constantia Park, Kroonstad, in the Free State.
Her death, which was described as a first in that area, has sent shock waves through the community, with many parents saying they now fear for the safety of their children, while some formed a vigilante group that went about beating up people until they found the suspect and killed him.
According to the residents, Boipelo’s decomposing body was found in a shack belonging to a man called Rasta, who had earlier helped in the search for the girl. He was then beaten to death but nobody is saying by whom.
A neighbour next to Rasta’s shack, who opted for anonymity, described him as a “character” who didn’t spend much time in that part of the community but would rather go to the “old township” and would retreat to his shack at night, high on whatever he smoked.
“Some nights he would shout and swear at people and that’s when I would come out to reprimand him to mind his language in front of the children,” he said.
The death of Boipelo has caused so much rage and anger within the community that a neighbour was unfortunately beaten by three balaclava-wearing men last Wednesday, just for being Rasta’s next-door neighbour.
The man who had a bruised face and busted lip said: “They kept asking questions about what I knew about the killing and even though I kept explaining that I knew nothing, they kept beating me senselessly.
“I had to take my wife and child far away from here to protect them because I don’t know what else will happen to me”.
Two weeks ago, the Sunday Independent first reported on Boipelo’s disappearance where it was alleged that the Grade 4 pupil had been lured by a man to “look for change at the shops”. That was the last time she was seen, according to her 6-year-old friend who she was playing with at the time of her disappearance.
According to a community leader, Morena Thebe, the young girl’s decomposing body was found three streets away from her home in a shack belonging to Rasta.
What is even more puzzling was that Rasta was part of the search party that worked tirelessly to find Boipelo after her disappearance.
“He went up and down with us as we searched for her. I remember how we went into that very yard but didn’t check in the house or shack because nothing was suspicious,” said Thebe, adding that he believes Rasta was keeping tabs on their routes by attending their daily meetings.
Suspicions were raised when a foul smell permeated from Rasta’s ramshackle, dirty, dingy shack, full of plastics, rundown beds and wardrobes.
The shack adjoins an RDP house alleged to belong to Rasta’s relative.
When they entered the shack, Thebe immediately spotted the young girl’s hand sticking out from the wardrobe, he said.
“It was unbelievable that her body was right under our nose and that the perpetrator was among us, searching with us.
I assume she wasn’t killed there but was later transported to the shack and left there to rot.
“This incident has had a traumatic impact on the entire community and we are not the same since the discovery. Everyone is on edge, everyone is angry and people feel let down by the police force that dismissed Boipelo’s mother’s cry,” he explained.
Boipelo’s mother Pena Sesele and her two grandmothers Moipone and Nketsing Sesele were grieving the death of their young child. “No mother ever dreams of burying their child and even while we searched for Boipelo, I had hope that she would come back to me. That I’ll be able to hold her and help her through the trauma of being lost for so long.
“I never imagined that my little girl would leave home walking and come back in a casket,” said the griefstricken mother.
Although the family did not personally know Rasta, they said in the years that they have lived in Constantia Park, they had never imagined that a gruesome murder would come to their doorstep.
Her maternal grandmother Moipone said, “Since the day of her disappearance, I always had visions and dreams of her returning to us, accompanied by a lot of celebration from the community. That was my prayer,” she added.
The Sunday Independent