A community united in anger and disbelief

2012-07-04 00:00

WE watched helplessly. Some of us in tears.

Along with community members of Mbutshane in Sweetwaters, we witnessed a heartbroken mother identify her murdered child.

The body of Ayanda Sibiya (12) had been dumped in a water tank, her eyes gouged and her hands tied.

The man who recovered Ayanda’s body was Lieutenant Jack Haskins of the PMB K9 search unit, who used a ladder to climb up the 1,2-metre high tank and then jumped inside.

His efforts to retrieve Ayanda’s body were accompanied by the humming of women in the crowd. They had earlier gathered in the moonlight, draped in blankets to guard against the winter chill.

They had been forewarned that Ayanda’s body had been found and crowded around the water tank as they waited for it to be retrieved.

The sight of Haskins holding Ayanda’s body wrapped in a plastic body bag prompted wailing from some while others mournfully sang a hymn.

Ayanda’s mother, Ntombenhle Sibiya, who had watched silently supported by family, was called to identify her body. Police officers tried to comfort her as best they could.

There were also the platitudes that struck the wrong note. “Don’t cry. We found your baby. Some people go missing for years and we never find them. You must be happy [at least we found her body],” one said.

She whispered something inaudible.

As Ayanda’s body was placed in the mortuary van, her mother staggered away, her grief prompting a chain reaction in the crowd, with women in tears and some wailing. The men in the crowd, who had earlier armed themselves with hammers, knob­kerries and sticks, looked as though they were ready for war.

“The person that killed this child deserves to be burned,” said one.

The crowd dispersed after the mortuary van had driven away.

Sibiya, supported by two women, walked home to join her partner, David Zuma, their eight-year-old daughter and a newborn baby girl.

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