Murderer’s guilty plea rejected

2018-05-24 06:01
Authorities on the scene after the discovery of five-year-old Minentle Lekhatha’s body under a bridge in Broadway Boulevard, Strand last year.PHOTO: maryke swart

Authorities on the scene after the discovery of five-year-old Minentle Lekhatha’s body under a bridge in Broadway Boulevard, Strand last year.PHOTO: maryke swart

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The man accused of killing five-year-old Minentle Lekhatha in June last year pleaded guilty on all four charges in the Western Cape High Court on Tuesday 22 May.

Xolani Lantu has been charged with kidnapping, two counts of rape and the murder of the toddler on Saturday 3 June.

The little girl went missing during national Child Protection Week; her lifeless body was found under a bridge in Broadway Boulevard, Strand, not far from her Nomzamo home, on Sunday 4 June.

Lantu (36) was in a relationship with Minentle’s grandmother at the time. In an affidavit to the court, the accused stated he was angry at his lover after she had become involved with someone else.

“I was upset and became very angry with her grandmother, Thelma [Bomela],” he admitted.

Further, the affidavit provides graphic details of how he raped and killed the little girl.

The accused told the court he was afraid Minentle would tell her family what had happened, so he decided to choke and kill her.

But in a shock move, the State rejected Lantu’s guilty plea. “Procedurally I will have to reject the plea,” said Judge Derek Wille.

“I have read your statement and note what you stated. I note the factual allegations that you made and the legal conclusion.

“As the State is in control of this prosecution, and it has not accepted what you said in the statement, I am obliged to enter a plea of not guilty, in terms of the amended Criminal Procedure Act, to the four charges.”.

Outside the court, Bomela said the gruesome way in which her grandchild was killed changed her life.

“I trusted Xolani because he also trusted me,” an emotional Bomela said. “My life will never be the same again. This will affect me until I go to the grave. Minentle was a bright child and it was clear she would have a bright future.”

She further told City Vision her name had been dragged through the mud, as if she had a hand in her granddaughter’s killing. “People said horrible things about me because I was close to Xolani,” she said.

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