There may be light at the end of the tunnel of darkness enshrouding Orange Farm as a woman appears in court on Thursday in connection with the murder of two young children.
The township south of Johannesburg has been plagued with cases of missing children and cruel child murders. The discovery of their little bodies has angered residents, who fear for their safety.
At least four children were murdered in Orange Farm this year. The latest were friends and neighbours Mpho Makondo, 8, and Simphiwe Mncina, 6, who were found early on Saturday, September 19 after being reported missing the night before.
Police spokesperson Brig Mathapelo Peters confirmed the arrest of a 29-year-old woman in connection with the latest murders. The woman will appear in the Vereeniging magistrate’s court.
She is a member of the community and is known to the families of the slain children. She allegedly killed them just three days after being released from custody in another child murder case.
Peters revealed that she had previously been charged for being in the country illegally.
She said the woman was implicated in the murder of another child, a seven-year-old boy.
“Police can confirm that this is the same suspect who was arrested in April 2020 for the murder of another child, a boy who was her neighbour, after the child’s body was found in her house. The boy had been reported missing earlier in the day on April 15 2020, and the search led to the woman’s house where the child’s body was found.
“The woman and her partner were both arrested but charges were withdrawn against the male suspect. The murder case of April 2020 has been temporarily withdrawn in court pending the outcome of the toxicology report. The 29-year-old woman was released from custody on September 16 2020, three days before the murder of the two children,” said Peters.
Family spokesperson Eric Peete, uncle of Makondo’s father, Moeketsi Malajtie, said the children were the best of friends and spent most days playing together.
On Friday, September 18, at about 6.30pm, Makondo’s aunt, Malehlohonolo Malatjie, went to a salon on the corner of their road in Extension 4.
Only 150m away from home, the children often went with Malatjie when she had her hair done there.
But that night the power went out and Malatjie escorted them home because it was unsafe to play in the street in the dark.
The family believe Makondo had decided to escort Mncina home because grandfather, Thabisang Malatjie, the head of the household, did not see them at home.
The residents, with the help of police, went out looking for the children but the search was called off at 4am because it was too dark without electricity to continue.
The friends’ little bodies were discovered naked and 100m apart after 5.30am that morning.
It was suspected to be a muthi killing as relative implements were found on their bodies.
They were found outside a popular tavern in Extension 4, the same tavern where the body of Mzwandile Zitho, 5, was discovered on April 15.
Zitho was found at 10pm, hours after he was reported missing by his grandmother.
According to police spokesperson Capt Kay Makhubele, he was found naked in an upright position next to a fridge in the tavern.
According to his grandmother, a bottle of muthi was found on the scene.
A tavern owner and his wife were arrested for the crime but the charges were withdrawn on August 28.
Ansia Kheha, 3, was found stuffed in a plastic bin after she went missing on June 18.
An informal waste picker found her body in a field with a stab wound to her upper body.
Peters said investigations into the murders were ongoing.
“The investigation is still under way while police continue to work hard to build a solid case in support of the preliminary evidence gathered thus far. Police remain committed to prioritising the investigation of crimes committed against children, women and other vulnerable people,” she said.