I just need to know who killed my child, says grieving mom

Johannesburg – "I have been praying that Mandla can fight for himself from the grave and show us who killed him," a grieving mother has told News24, as she battles to come to terms with her son’s murder.

Nomakhaya Madikane’s son Siphamandla was just 10-years-old when he was lured from his group of friends by a man who claimed he wanted to send him on an errand.

The boy never returned home.

His burnt body was found in Reiger Park on the East Rand in November 2013.

"We found him the next day in the veld. He had been killed... stabbed in the neck and he had been burnt on his back but you could still see his face. We could tell it was him. But the neck had been wiped clean with no sign of blood. None of his body parts had been taken," Madikane said.

She leaves out the information given by police that her son's mouth had been stuffed with socks and a used condom was found at the scene, suggesting that the boy had been raped.

Reiger Park toddler

Mandla's story is similar to that of 3-year-old Cuburne van Wyk, also from Reiger Park, who was also found murdered and burnt to death in August last year.

Forensic evidence revealed that the toddler, who was still being breastfed, had been hit on the head with a blunt object, strangled and set alight while he was still alive. A rock had been placed on his head and his body was covered with leaves and debris. There was no indication that he had been raped but, like Mandla, his remains were found by a passerby.

Katlego "Chicken" Mpoku was arrested, tried, convicted and handed a life sentence for Van Wyk's murder.

Happier times (Supplied)

Mandla's mother told News24 that she shared in the grief of the Van Wyk family who live just a short distance from her.

She has become familiar with the family as she attended a few of Mpoku's court appearances, hoping to hear Mpoku confess to murdering her son as well. But he was never implicated in the case.

"Police never linked Chicken to my son's case. He also said he was not around during the time of my son's death. I think he said he was in prison. If he didn't kill Mandla, then I think there are some people who he may be working with," Madikane said.

"No one was ever arrested for my son's killing. The one suspect the police had was never arrested because there was no evidence it was him. Police haven't been back here to update me on the case," she adds.

Life 'no longer good'

While she is happy that the Van Wyks have received justice for their son's killing, the frail, soft-spoken woman is desperate to get answers in her son's case.

"Our case seems to have been forgotten," she told News24.

Madikane says the worst part is since her son's killer remains on the loose, she could possibly be interacting with him as one of her neighbours.

Life has taken a turn for the worse since Mandla's death. According to Madikane, her four-roomed RDP house which is surrounded by shacks occupied by tenants, is sometimes pelted with stones and the culprits are never caught. The stone-throwing began before Mandla's was buried when the family had erected a tent in preparation for the funeral.

A few months ago, her husband, was found beaten and dumped outside the yard after a night of drinking. He doesn't know why he was attacked nor who his attackers were, Madikane said.

"Life is just no longer good without Mandla," she said.

Pain and sadness was written all over Madikane's face as she returned from her bedroom with a folder filled with memories of Mandla including his baby pictures and the programme for his funeral.

"I just need to know who killed my child," Madikane said, sifting through the pictures.

News24 went to the police station where the case was initially opened. A policeman who went to call the station commander returned and said the commander was not prepared to speak to reporters. He didn’t ask why News24 was there. He referred all media queries to the station's communications officer, who was not present at the station.

News24 later spoke to communication officer, Sergeant Mashudu Phathela. He said the case had been transferred to the Brakpan police station, which handled matters of sexual offences.

It was unclear how far the investigation had progressed.

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