Five-year-old Mzwandile Zitho was found murdered at a tavern in Orange Farm last week. His grandmother, Gogo Nompumelelo Zitho, tells Karabo Molokele how she is battling to come to terms with her grandson’s murder
“Why did they kill an innocent boy? He didn’t deserve to die like this.”
These were the moving words of Gogo Nompumelelo Zitho, grandmother of Mzwandile Zitho, whose naked body was found hidden between two large fridges at a neighbour’s tavern in Orange Farm, south of Johannesburg, last week.
City Press this week spoke to a devastated Zitho at her two-bedroomed home which was jam-packed with mourners.
Asking us to sit outside, she grabbed a plastic chair and made herself comfortable under a tree.
The 63-year-old woman’s bloodshot eyes bore testimony to the fact that she had not slept for days.
She had to be strong for her 31-year-old daughter, Boniswa, she said.
“Boniswa is not coping, she is not fine at all. She has not been eating for days. I wish I can take away her pain from her,” said Zitho.
“I last saw and spoke to Wandi Wednesday last week, around 11am, when I called him to eat. He said he was not hungry.
"That was the last I heard from him,” she said with teary eyes. She described Wandi as a “very smart and vibrant” boy.
Zitho told City Press that that day had been unusual. As the hours went by and Wandi did not come back home, she got worried that something had happened to him, and went to search for him.
“I was panicking, because he had [been away for] some time and that was unusual for him. I searched for him everywhere, I even went to the nearby squatter camp.
"It was around 2pm when I decided to call his mother, who was at work, telling her that her son had gone missing,” she said.
Zitho explained that while she was searching for Wandi she bumped into the owner of the tavern, who lived not far from her home.
“I told him I was looking for Wandi. He told me he had not seen him, but that I should calm down because Wandi was a clever boy who knew his way back home. He decided to help search for him and we called the community to help us.”
As the search for Wandi yielded no result, she decided to go to the police station at around 4pm to open a missing person case.
“I found him [the tavern owner] at the police station. The police helped us to search for Wandi.
We decided to go as far as looking for him at his paternal family home at Extension 1, but he was nowhere to be found,” she said.
As it was becoming late, Zitho said they gave up and went back home.
“When I arrived home, I found him [the tavern owner] weeping. He told me the community was accusing him of killing Wandi. I was so confused and asked him if he did kill him,” Zitho said.
Neighbour Nosipho Kheswa, 57, said she was one of the first people who saw little Wandi’s body at the tavern.
“I sat Nompumelelo down and broke the news to her that her grandson had died, and that his body had been discovered standing between two fridges at the tavern,” Kheswa said.
Zitho had to be brave and force herself to identify Wandi’s body.
“He was dead, but still standing on his feet. His neck and ankles were wrapped with strings and his body was smeared with a slimy substance. I couldn’t believe what I saw,” she said, adding that she would never forget the shocking sight she was confronted with.
“It will take me years to forget what I witnessed with my eyes. As a family we believe they wanted to use him for witchcraft, but it seems they failed, so they decided to kill him,” she said.
“Now the tavern owner and his partner claim that they don’t know how Wandi landed in their home. It is not easy to gain access to his home as it is very secured,” she said.
“Only God knows why [this was done] to Wandi. As a family we just want justice.”
The National Prosecuting Authority’s Gauteng spokesperson, Phindi Mjonondwane, said a suspect appeared at the Vereeniging Regional Court last week and was charged with murder.
“A woman was arrested together with a male person after the discovery of the body of a five-year-old boy at a tavern in Orange Farm. Charges against the man were not placed on the roll, as there is currently no prima facie case against him,” she said.
Mzwandile will be buried on Tuesday.
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