“Our elders are living in fear because they don’t know who will be targeted next,” says Xolisa Peter, Ward 92 councillor.
She was speaking at a memorial service for the late Nontsikelelo Ndlebe, whose half-naked and charred body was found in her house last week.
It is believed the 78-year-old was raped in her home on Friday 4 June before the house was set alight. The gruesome incident occurred in Kusile Street, Khayelitsha B Section and caused a social media storm with people describing it as horrific.
Addressing mourners at the service on Saturday 12 June, Peter said such an incident was not the first, and she urged police to investigate it speedily.
“In 2017, an 80-year-old woman from E Section was stabbed to death in her house by criminals,” said Peter. “Our elders are living in fear because they don’t know what will happen next.”
She described Ndlebe’s case as “high-profile”.
“In this country we are facing the issue of gender-based violence (GBV) and rape. Every day women are raped and killed by young people. This case (Ndlebe’s case) is regarded as one of the high profile cases.”
According to reports, Ndlebe’s body was found lying in her room beside her bed. The room was damaged by fire.
Speakers described her death as horrific and devastating. They called for an immediate arrest of the suspect/s and for the law to take its course.
Ndlebe’s neighbour Kholiwe Phukuza said she and others had been living in fear since her death. She felt women were not safe in the community. “It is the first time this kind of incident occurred in our area,” said Phukuza.
“We are all shocked and nobody deserves to die under such inhumane circumstances. We are hoping that God will make a plan so that the perpetrators can be brought to book.”
She described her late neighbour as a humble person who liked people.
Ndlebe’s son, Sihle, talked of the family’s deep-rooted pain over the incident. “The first person who saw the incident was my younger sister,” he related.
He said his sister, Nondumiso (47), visited her mother on Saturday morning, 5 June, to update her on an ongoing water problem at the house.
According to Sihle, when his sister arrived at the house she noticed the burglar gate was opened but the door locked.
“She went to knock at the back door thinking my mother was still asleep,” he said. “Turning the corner of the back of the house she noticed to her surprise the back entrance was broken into and there were pieces of glass on the ground and she immediately screamed and called neighbours.”
Some neighbours arrived immediately and entered the house.
Sihle said he had to drive from Milnerton after receiving a call about the incident.
“On my arrival the police officers were already there as well as some community members,” he said, adding there was “chaos” around the house.
He labelled the scene of his mother’s house and body as “indescribable” and “gross”, with blankets next to her body and blood stains on the bed.
Lingelethu police spokesperson Const Xoliswa Nyalambisa said a murder case is under investigation.
“No suspects have been arrested yet,” she said, adding police were still waiting for postmortem results from the pathologist for the official cause of Ndlebe’s death.