Three-year-old's murderer sentenced to life but still no closure for family

2019-10-29 16:14
Liyaqat Lee Mentoor went missing in March 16, 2018. (Supplied)

Liyaqat Lee Mentoor went missing in March 16, 2018. (Supplied)

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The family of three-year-old Liyaqat "Lee" Mentoor, who was murdered last year, say they have mixed emotions after his killer was sentenced to life imprisonment on Tuesday.  

Lee's body has still not been found.

Besides life imprisonment, the Gauteng High Court in Johannesburg gave Onke Mashinini 15 years for robbery and five for defeating the ends of justice.

Speaking to News24, Estelle Delport, Lee's aunt and family spokesperson, said the sentence was "bittersweet".

"It is a bittersweet victory for us as a family because justice has been served [but] we still don't know where Lee is or what actually happened to him.

"For us as a family, there is no closure … it's mixed emotions," Delport said, adding nothing would bring her nephew back.

"No amount of years will ever be enough for a perpetrator taking anyone's life… It will never bring Lee back to us."

Last year, Mashinini was arrested after Lee went missing while his mother, Kaylah, was at work.

She was dating Mashinini at the time, and he was the last person to see Lee before his disappearance, News24 reported.

Blood was found in Mashinini's house in Roodepoort, where he was reportedly looking after the boy. DNA tests confirmed that it was Lee's blood.

Delport said the family would have preferred a harsher sentence for Mashinini.

"Five years for me is still not enough for defeating the ends of justice because he is continuing to defeat the ends justice as he will not reveal where Lee's remains are," she added.

The trial, which ran for several months, was "extremely traumatic" for the family, Delport said.

"Each day was difficult because you still wake up knowing that you will never, ever see Lee again.

"With Kaylah having to see him daily and not being able to get her son back - not being able to give a mother her own child back is the worst thing.

"Not one day was it a brilliant day, it was just a day of coping," Delport said of the trial.

She added the family was grateful for the invaluable support they received throughout the trial. "It's made us stronger [and] realise our purpose - that we will not stop fighting for others like Lee."

The family has started a foundation to do exactly that, ensuring that other families also have support.

"I will ensure that we are the voice for the voiceless [and] that justice prevails for [Lee]. I will make sure that, for families out there in the same predicament, we are there with them every step of the way.

"It is the support that got us through this, without the support it would have been worse than it felt," Delport said.

Read more on:    liyaqat 'lee' mentoor  |  johannesburg  |  crime
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