- The man was arrested for killing and burying his underaged girlfriend under his bed.
- Her family said the suspect had accused the girl of stealing R500 from him.
- A community leader told News24 that the teen was warned not to date the suspect as he was a well-known criminal.
A 37-year-old Eastern Cape man has been arrested for allegedly killing and burying his 15-year-old girlfriend under his bed.
The teenage girl, Yonela Nonkeneza, was dating the suspect, her family confirmed.
Her body was exhumed on Wednesday from a grave dug under the man's bed in Qawukeni Village outside Qonce.
Hours later, the man was arrested by police near Lower Mthombe outside Qonce( formerly known as King William’s Town) on Wednesday night, said police spokesperson Sibongile Soci.
Soci said the man would appear in court soon.
The discovery of the body ended a three-day search for Nonkeneza.
Soci said she had last been seen on Sunday 28 March.
In a video shared with News24, the victim’s heartbroken sister Nontombazana Sofolo said the suspect had accused Nonkeneza of stealing R500 from him.
Sofolo said, when she heard about the money conflict, she intervened and pleaded with him not to harm Nonkeneza, and had promised to pay him back in instalments on her behalf.
The discovery of Nonkeneza’s body was comforting, as it would bring closure for her devastated family, she said.
Sofolo added that, when Nonkeneza started dating the man, she had barely stayed at her home.
“She would stay for five days with this man and when I would try to talk to her, she would not even look me in the eye. I would ask her friend to talk to her."
Sobbing inconsolably, Sofolo said:
"She left me shattered into pieces. When I saw our other sister arrive and asking me what had happened, I did not know what to say to her."
Sofolo said she last saw Yonela on Saturday morning.
Qawukeni community leader Freeman Gqatso, 61, said the suspect was a well-known criminal who spent more time in prison than on the outside.
Gqatso said Nonkeneza had only arrived in the village four months ago, from Rustenburg where she had lived with her mother.
She had come to the village of her father’s family to undergo a traditional ritual to introduce her to her paternal ancestors.
"While in prison, this criminal had acquired artisan skills and, when he got out, he started making money for himself by tiling floors. We believed he had used that money to lure this young child," said Gqatso.
Gqatso said Nonkeneza's family had warned her to stay away from the suspect because he was a bad person.
Khula Community Development Project director Petros Majola said the man should also face charges of statutory rape.
"No child can consent to sex," he said and called for an end to gender-based violence.
Police said the circumstances surrounding the murder would be investigated and a post-mortem would be conducted to establish the cause of death.
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