Murders spur fear and loathing in Nobody

2011-05-14 16:07

Regina Mampshika was relieved last week when she heard the voice of her missing daughter on the phone, saying she was on her way home.

The Limpopo mother thought this assurance marked the end of her five sleepless nights. She had been trying to phone her daughter time and again, but her cellphone was ­always switched off. Then her child ­answered, saying she was heading home.

But less than 24 hours later Mampshika was summoned to a half-built church to identify the body of Francina Seipati Mampshika, one of the three teenagers whose disappearance had sparked a manhunt in Nobody Ga-Mothiba ­village, outside Polokwane. Francina (16), Refilwe Mampshika (15) and Kedibone Ledwaba – who were inseparable – had gone to a local family planning clinic on Monday last week and did not ­return home.

Seipati and Refilwe were cousins while Kedibone was their childhood friend. The killer robbed Mampshika of her child, who was described as well-mannered and obedient by locals, and who had dreamed of becoming a social worker.

“When her phone started ringing on Thursday I had hope she was still alive. “On Friday I heard she had been killed. It is painful,” said a weeping Mampshika. “We are still asking ourselves about the motive but we can’t get answers. We wish one of them was still alive so she could tell us what happened when they left the ­clinic.”

A day after Seipati’s body was found with head wounds, a ­shepherd stumbled across the bodies of Refilwe and Kedibone.

They were found in bushes just outside the ­village.Bloodstains were found near ­Refilwe and Kedibone’s scratched bodies but there were no signs of rape or mutilation, according to Limpopo police commissioner Amon Mashigo.

Refilwe’s mother, Boledi Mampshika, was inconsolable. “We just want to see that person (the murderer),” said Boledi.

Reuben Seabi, spokesperson for the Ledwaba family, said Kedibone’s mother, Rosina, still could not believe what had happened to her daughter. The deaths of the three girls have sparked fear in the community, with learners afraid to play outside or even go to school.

Regina said: “Now people are scared. Children are even afraid to go to school. “We can’t send them to the shops any more and have to arrange transport to ferry them to school.” Mashigo said they had formed a task team of senior officers to probe the murders. It will be assisted by the elite ­police unit, the Hawks, he added.

Mashigo said they were still waiting for the post-mortem ­results to determine a possible ­motive for the murders. “There are certain clues we are following, which we are not ­prepared to divulge.”

Yesterday, on the day of the girls’ funeral,?Sapa?reported?that?two men and a woman had been arrested in connection with the murders.

At the girls’ funeral, the Minister for Women, Children and People with Disabilities, Lulu Xingwana, said bail should not be granted to the suspects.

Earlier, their families and church leaders warned politicians against trying to use the tragedy for selfish electioneering purposes.

Speaking on behalf of the family, Bishop Blessing Selepe said: “We are aware that this is an election month. “We are watching very closely to ensure that no one should use this moment of sadness to canvass support.” He said politicians he refused to name had “informally” ­approached the bereaved families.

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