Six boys charged with murder and rape
THE STONING to death of three children in South Africa last August prompted widespread public disgust, but yesterday the nation was even more stunned to learn that six young boys have been charged with the gruesome murders.
Bafana Kekana (9), Hosea Richard Kekana (10) and their cousin Johanna Kekana (12) were last seen alive on August 15th when they took part in a protest march calling for more teachers at their primary school in Mookgopong, Limpopo province.
Three days later the bodies of the three orphans, who lived at the Montadi Youth Care Centre, a foster home, were found tied up with shoelaces in a scrub area close to the rural town.
The youngsters, who were wearing school uniforms, had their hands tied behind their backs and feet bound when they were found. Their bodies were battered by the stoning they received. Johanna was also raped before her death.
Police tasked with solving the murders found bloodied stones, covered by a blanket and tree branches, near the crime scene during the early part of their investigation. But the killers’ trail went cold thereafter.
Reward for information
Such was the frustration among investigating officers over their lack of progress that in September, authorities offered a R100,000 (€11,000) award for information leading to the arrest and prosecution of those responsible.
The investigation was also joined by the South African Human Rights Commission in October which said it was looking into the murders and whether the children’s guardians had been negligent, as the dead children’s disappearance was not reported in the days after they were last seen alive.
Despite the reward, it took another two months before local residents came forward and provided evidence that led to Thursday’s arrests.
Brig Hangwani Mulaudzi confirmed to reporters on the day that six teenagers had been arrested for the murder of the Kekanas and that they were being kept “in a place of safety” prior to their court appearance.
“One of the teenagers arrested is a scholar [pupil] and the other five are apparently street children, but police are still investigating whether that is true or not,” Brig Mulaudzi said.
Charges of murder and rape
The accused, whose identities are being protected because they are minors, appeared before the magistrate’s court yesterday afternoon. As well as murder, the accused were also charged with rape. They are said to live in the area where the murders occurred.
Child murder is not uncommon in South Africa, where statistics show on average three juveniles are killed every day, but the vast majority of the attacks are carried out by male adults.