Reiger Park toddler identified by scar

2014-08-12 05:24


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Johannesburg - A scar on the forehead of a burnt toddler was all it took for a Reiger Park family to identify the remains of Cuburne Lavone van Wyk.

"The father went to identify the body today [Monday] and he saw a scar on the side of the face that was not burnt," the boy's mother Liezel van Wyk told Sapa. She relived her anguish when she spoke about the pain she felt from the moment the toddler went missing on 6 August, until the body was discovered on Saturday.

Speaking through a translator, Liezel said that on Saturday she got a call from police informing her they would come to collect her.

Not knowing where she was being taken or what to expect, the mother went along and found herself at the mine dump.

"I was informed that a body was discovered but I couldn't leave the car. The body was burnt but we knew it was him from pieces of material from the clothes he was wearing when he went missing," she said.

Police at the time decided to send samples for DNA testing to be certain of the child's identity, but on Monday police said the father had confirmed it was his son.

"The body recovered by the police in a mine dump in Reiger Park at the weekend has been identified as that of Cuburne Lavone van Wyk who disappeared six days ago," police spokesperson Noxolo Kweza said.

"The body was identified by Van Wyk's father today."

Police are still looking for 25-year-old Katleho Phoku, known as "Chicken", who they think could help with the investigation into the boy's disappearance and subsequent murder.

Kweza said the child died as a result of multiple head injuries and burn wounds.

"The results from the DNA analysis process will follow at a later stage. Police investigations into his disappearance and now his death are still continuing," she said.

The family said the father was very emotional after identifying his son's body.

"When he came back he said he could not believe they put his child through that kind of pain," Liezel said.

Crime against children

Gauteng Premier David Makhura visited the family on Monday to convey his condolences.

He said what the family was going through was unimaginable.

"It is a very difficult thing for any parent and community to lose a child..." he said.

Makhura said he was concerned with crimes against children.

Van Wyk was the third child to be a victim of crime in the province in less than two months.

Four-year-old Taegrin Morris was killed in a botched hijacking in Reiger Park last month. Hijackers who had just forced his family out of their vehicle drove off with him still hanging out of the car, trapped by his seat belt.

The hijackers abandoned the car several kilometres away, along with the dead toddler.

Earlier this month, a 3-year-old boy died after being caught in the crossfire during a shooting in Westbury, Johannesburg.

Luke Tibbetts had been on life support machines in hospital since the shooting on 2 August. He died six days later.

Lindray Khakhu was arrested for allegedly shooting Tibbetts, while Keenan Mokwena, who was also shot and wounded in the incident, was arrested on Wednesday.

Both would appear in the Newlands Magistrate's Court in Sophiatown on 12 August.

Makhura said the people of Gauteng needed to wage war on crime to better protect their children.

"Crime is a big problem for us, our children are being killed. They are caught in the crossfire. We must wage war on crime and gangsterism," he said.

Makhura said the only way the community could win the war against crime was to be united. He said new strategies were also needed to tackle the issue.

"I'm convinced we need a fresh approach to dealing with issues of crime. Especially social crime. We will convene a summit to develop a renewed crime fighting strategy for Gauteng to ensure we revitalise street committees," he said.

Read more on:    david makhura  |  johannesburg  |  crime  |  child abuse

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