Judge: Muti killer didn't act alone
Johannesburg - Soshanguve muti killer Brian Mangwale did not act alone, but his accomplices had not been brought to justice, the High Court in Pretoria found on Monday.
"The murder of the deceased was committed with others... The accused was part of a conspiracy with others to murder the deceased and sell her body parts for money," Judge Billy Mothle said in delivering judgment.
Mothle found Mangwale guilty of kidnapping and murdering Masego Kgomo in January 2009.
He found there was not enough evidence to prove he raped the 10-year-old schoolgirl, but said he could not exclude the possibility that she was raped by others.
Mangwale made numerous conflicting statements about his involvement in the murder, after pointing out the child's half-naked and decomposing body to police in the bushes behind the Soshanguve railway station.
In some of the confessions, he admitted stabbing the child to death and removing her body parts for muti, but in others he put the blame for the murder on a traditional healer.
In one confession, he admitted receiving money for the body parts, but in court he claimed he was innocent and that police had forced him into making a false confession.
Mothle said Mangwale had clearly tried to mislead the police and the court about what really happened.
He found that Mangwale sent the child and a friend to buy him a cooldrink, but followed them to the spaza shop and separated them.
Mangwale handed the girl over to his friends before going home to sleep.
Later that night, he helped Masego's mother, his own mother and the police search for the missing child.
In the morning, he left his shack to join his co-conspirators in extracting body parts from Masego, which led to her death.
"... The deceased was either killed to remove her body parts, or killed as a result of the removal of her body parts," Mothle said.
He said the evidence indicated that the child was alive when her body parts were harvested.
Minister of Children Lulu Xingwana attended the hearing on Monday and comforted Masego's mother, Kate, who was overcome by emotion while speaking to reporters.
Xingwana said that while she was happy with Mangwale's conviction, she was unhappy that the others responsible were still at large.
She said the family has been very patient, but had been through a traumatic period while listening to the gruesome details of Masego's murder in court.
Mangwale also confessed to kidnapping and murdering 5-year-old Sara Zitha in Soshanguve in 2006, but was acquitted as the State did not lead evidence in this matter.
The State conceded that Mangwale was in jail in April, when Zitha was believed to have been murdered. He could also not specify the date of Zitha's murder.
Sentencing will begin on Tuesday.