She used to greet him whenever they passed each other on the street but a few days ago, the mother of slain four-year-old Naledi Chaka learnt that the same man she respected had allegedly strangled and killed her only daughter.
Around two weeks ago Naledi, who had been missing for almost a week, was found dead in a pit toilet on Thursday.
She was raped and killed allegedly by a man who was known to her and her family.
The 36-year-old man allegedly dumped her body in his rented house's pit-toilet in Solesesha in Thaba-Nchu in Free State.
Naledi Chaka was her mother's beacon of hope. Through her she saw a bright future, Matshitso Chaka (43) tells DRUM.
"I didn't think this man was capable of such cruelty. We used to greet each other and have small talks when we passed each other on the street."
It is alleged the male nurse at Botshabelo Hospital kidnapped, raped and strangled Naledi.
During investigations, one of the children who was playing with Naledi informed police that she was last seen with the male suspect.
SAPS spokesperson Sergeant Martin Xuma revealed that their investigation led them to a house not far from the girl's home.
"The police went to the suspect's rented place in Selosesha, Zone 2, and upon searching, they noticed a body inside a pit hole. Fire and rescue [services] were summoned to the scene and they managed to retrieve the body," he told IOL.
The mother says she realised just before dusk that her daughter was nowhere to be found."She had been playing with her friends on the street. I didn't have any problem with it because they always play outside."She went to open a case after her five-year-old niece told her that the suspect took Naledi with him to buy her sweets."My daughter had a bright future ahead of her. She was smart and very curious about a lot of things. But this man decided to kill her like an animal."The police revealed that they first found her clothes and shoes about three streets away from her house."I don't want to attend the case or see him ever again. I want him to rot in jail for all I care."Matshitso says even though Naledi was laid to rest over the weekend it still hasn't sunk in that she's no more."When I see kids playing, I see her face. Everywhere I go, I see her. I don't believe she is gone," she sobs. Matshiso, who has a 24-year-old son had Naledi when she was 39, after losing two children in 1999 and 2010. "She was ]a] beacon of hope. I am not coping." People including former Public Protector, Thuli Madonsela have been sending messages of condolences to the family.