Reiger Park toddler's father wants life sentence

2015-05-21 13:40
Leizell van Wyk and Elroy Pietersen speak to reporters outside court. (Mpho Raborife, News24)

Leizell van Wyk and Elroy Pietersen speak to reporters outside court. (Mpho Raborife, News24)

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Johannesburg – The father of murdered Reiger Park toddler Cuburne van Wyk said a guilty verdict won’t bring back his son, but is hoping for a life sentence for convicted killer Katlego Mpoku.

Katlego "Chicken" Mpoku was found guilty of the kidnapping and murder of Reiger Park toddler Cuburne van Wyk.

"You are found guilty and convicted of the crimes of kidnapping and murder as charged," Judge George Maluleke told the Johannesburg High Court, sitting in Palm Ridge, on Thursday.

The three-year-old toddler's father Elroy Pietersen told reporters outside court that he hoped Mpoku would spend the rest of his life behind bars.

"[It] won't bring my son back but if he can get a good sentence like a life sentence it will do," he said.

Trying to cope

He said the family was trying to cope with the death of their son who went missing on August 6 and was found three days later burnt from his chest downwards and strangled to death with a tracksuit top.

"We are trying to keep our heads high but sometimes there are the tears, the missing [him], the dreams we [had] and things like sometimes we used to send him to buy himself some sweets, things like that."

Maluleke told the court on Thursday morning that there was very strong circumstantial evidence linking Mpoku to the child's death despite the absence of any DNA evidence.

The toddler disappeared while playing outside with his siblings.

His body was discovered by a passer-by at a mine dump in Reiger Park three days later.

Body found at soccer field

Mpoku had told the court that he had left Van Wyk in a street where other boys were playing near the soccer field where the three-year-old was last seen.

"The inference that the accused kidnapped the child but someone else took the child and killed him is so far-fetched that it cannot possibly be true," Maluleke said.

"The evidence that he parted ways with the child must be so strong that it is considered as a [reasonable] possibility."

Mpoku, wearing a grey hooded top and black tracksuit, stood with his hands behind his back and looked straight ahead at Maluleke as the judgment was being read out.

More children going missing

The matter was adjourned to June 5 for sentencing proceedings.

Van Wyk's mother would be called by the State to argue for aggravation of sentence.

Outside court, Pietersen said there needed to be a more concerted effort by communities to look out for the safety of children in their neighbourhoods.

"There are still children going missing, not only in Ramaphosa, but all over in South Africa.

"All the communities can work together, to look after people's children, like your child is my child and my child is your child, things will be better."

Read more on:    johannesburg  |  crime

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