Father’s fruitless search for child

2009-11-18 00:00

THE father of nine-year-old Nombuso Nhlangulela, who was found raped and murdered on the fourth day after she vanished from her Howick school last year, described to the high court yesterday how he and other family members searched fruitlessly for her.

Themba Nhlangulela said he last saw his daughter alive when he left for work on the morning of Thursday, February 28, 2008. She went off to school in the company of her two older sisters and brother as usual.

Nhlangulela said the siblings always walked together and would part company on arrival at school — the older children entering the secondary school situated some 700 metres from the primary school that Nombuso attended.

After school, the little girl would wait at the gate for her sisters and brother and they would all return home together.

On that Thursday she did not arrive home.

Nhlangulela said the family started by visiting friends they believed might know her whereabouts and even checked to see if she had caught a bus to her grandfather’s home at Mpophomeni, even though she had never done that before.

Unable to find her, he reported her missing to the Howick police the same evening. Nhlangulela said the next day and throughout the weekend the family, as well as the principal at Nombuso’s school, made numerous phone calls and went around trying to find out what had happened to her.

“Every effort we made came to nothing,” he said.

On Monday morning, March 3, police telephoned to say they had found her body.

Nhlangulela testified that when he later identified his daughter’s body she was wearing a cream-coloured shirt with maroon embroidery, which did not belong to anyone in his family.

She no longer had her school uniform on.

A Witness newspaper delivery man, Leonard Nyide, told the court that while delivering papers in Howick near Pick n Pay early on March 3, he heard what sounded like someone whistling. He saw a person kneeling under a tree. He subsequently saw someone running away from the scene, leaving another person lying under the tree.

He called the police. On their arrival they found it was the body of a young girl.

Detective Inspector Nicholas Zuma, who arrived at the scene, said he had the impresssion that Nombuso was killed at that spot. She was lying flat on her back, tied up, a plastic bag over her head and face, and there were “struggle marks” on the ground as if she had been kicking, he said.

The case is proceeding.

ON trial for Nombuso’s kidnapping, rape and murder is Faizel Mohamed Sayed (35) of Howick West.

Sayed yesterday pleaded not guilty before acting Judge Ben van Heerden and assessors to all charges relating to Nombuso’s rape and death, which he denied all knowledge of.

He also pleaded not guilty to charges of kidnapping, robbery and rape arising from a string of attacks on adolescents and young women in Pietermaritzburg between April and June last year.

He claims to have had sexual intercourse by consent with all the alleged victims, except one whom he denied all knowledge of.

She is a 17-year-old woman he allegedly threatened with a firearm prior to raping and robbing her on June 21 last year.

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