Toddler’s murderer gets guilty verdict

2018-06-07 06:00
Xolani Lantu has been found guilty on four charges including rape and murder of the five-year-old Minentle Lekhatha.PHOTO: velani ludidi

Xolani Lantu has been found guilty on four charges including rape and murder of the five-year-old Minentle Lekhatha.PHOTO: velani ludidi

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Self-confessed child killer and rapist Xolani Lantu was found guilty in the Western Cape High Court yesterday (Wednesday 6 June).

Lantu was found guilty of murder, kidnapping and two counts of rape after he killed five-year-old Minentle Lekhatha from Nomzamo in Strand in last June.

He committed these heinous acts after finding out that Minentle’s grandmother, with whom he was in a relationship, had found a new man.

Delivering his judgement, Judge Derek Willie told the court that if found guilty, Lantu faces two life sentences. “The accused unlawfully sexually penetrated the five year-old without consent. If the court finds you guilty, you may get a life sentence as the victim was a minor. If the court again finds you guilty of the second rape offence, another life sentence may apply,” said Willie.

Lantu was motionless during the court proceedings, sometimes lowering his head and clasping his hands.

Minentle’s grandmother Thelma Bomela testified that Lantu had a good relationship with the family, including the deceased.

She said she ended their relationship in May last year, but Lantu refused to accept that the relationship had ended.

Willie found Lantu guilty on all four charges , with the defence requesting a postponement of the sentencing to consult with Lantu about the judgement.

Residents of Nomzamo and Lwandle packed public gallery of the small courtroom.

Local ward councillor Simthembile Mfecane said it was an emotional trial. “The first time I heard of the extent of the deceased’s injuries was in court. This was the most painful thing to ever happened in the area,” he said.

“I am happy that Lantu has been found guilty and we hope he never returns to our community.”

Resident Ntsika Xhanti felt their time had been wasted. “We came here for judgement and sentencing. As a parent, I will never be happy until this man is sentenced to life,” he said.

Eric Ntabazalila, regional spokesperson for the National Prosecuting Authority’s (NPA), said they welcome the conviction. “The state will ask the court to impose life imprisonment for each of the two rape charges, life imprisonment for the murder charge and 10 years for the kidnapping charge,” he said.

Ntabazalila credited Lwandle police’s Sergeant Moleka Nteta for the sterling work performed during the investigation.

He further praised Advocate Maria Marshall for her proven skill when dealing with these types of cases. “Her dedication and skill highlights the seriousness of the state with regard to cases against women and children. The conviction of the accused within one year of Minentle’s murder shows the NPA’s continued commitment to prioritise the prosecution of all child murders in this province,” he said.

Lantu will be sentenced next Wednesday (13 June).

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