Action Society will now oversee the prosecution in the murder of 10-year-old Lihle Zenzile from Mbekwini in Paarl, Western Cape.
An 18-year-old relative allegedly murdered and stuffed the girl’s body into a trunk in her house on 6 January 2023. The suspect appeared in court on 16 January, the day of Lihle’s funeral. He handed himself over to the police and showed them the trunk after claiming he had not seen the girl.
“It is alarming to see how criminals are murdering children in this country,” said Kaylynn Palm, Western Cape Action Centre coordinator at Action Society. “During the first nine months of 2022, South Africa saw the murder of 864 children, the attempted murder of 909 children and 5 502 cases of assault to do grievous bodily harm towards children.
“As a society, we cannot stand by and watch how the lives of innocent children are cut short.”
Lihle’s mother, Julia, was still in shock and disbelief. “I cannot believe that my child is gone. I have lost two family members, which is heartbreaking for me,” she said with tears running down her cheeks.
The last time she saw her child, she slept peacefully as Julia made her way to work. She added that Lihle was going to start Grade 5 this year – something she was very excited about. “Seeing so many parents prepare their children for school, buying stationery and school items made me cry and very emotional because I will never be able to dress my child and take her to school ever again,” she said.
In September last year, also in Paarl, a 4-year-old girl, Mia (Tamia) Botha, was killed.
“It seems that the police does not realise the urgency in solving child murder cases,” said Palm. “In Mia’s case, two suspects were arrested in connection with the murder but have been released. There’s no feedback from the police as to what happened to the men. They also fail to update the family about the progress in the case. They want to see action,” she said.
Action Society will be present in court next month – and will closely monitor the case.