Suspect arrested in grisly murder of Klerksdorp teen

North West police on Sunday arrested a suspect linked to the gruesome murder of a 15-year-old Klerksdorp teenager at the weekend.

Nombuyiselo Nombewu’s charred body was discovered two days after she went missing on Friday.

Her death comes barely a week after Karabo Mokoena’s 22-year-old burnt body was discovered in a shallow grave in Bramley, Johannesburg, last week. She had been missing for two weeks. Her boyfriend was arrested and appeared in court last week after allegedly confessing that he killed her. The murder sparked public outrage with demands that men defend and stop abusing women and children.

Police spokesperson Brigadier Sabata Mokgwabone confirmed the arrest in connection with Nombewu’s killing but was unable to provide further details, saying the matter was under investigation.

Nombuyiselo’s distraught uncle, Mbuyiselo Nombewu, told the Mail & Guardian that his niece was last seen alive on Friday when her grandmother sent her to a house not far from their family home in Jouberton township, Klerksdorp.

“We last saw her on Friday at around 2.30pm when she came back from school,” Nombewu said. 

“My mother — her grandmother — sent to her to deliver a message to another lady, not far from home. We are told that she did arrive at the house and did whatever she was sent to do and left the house. No one knows what happened after that.”

The family grew nervous as the hours passed into the evening without Nombuyiselo returning home.

“They looked everywhere and eventually went to bed without knowing where she was,” Nombewu said. “They called me on Saturday, in the morning, and I told them to report her missing with the police — that [the report to the police] was already [at] about 7pm.”

The family’s waning hopes disappeared around 9am on Sunday when a child from the neighbourhood spotted a charred body in the nearby bushes.

“The boy called my younger brother telling him he had seen a burnt body and asked him to have a look at it,” a distressed Nombewu said. 

“Zamuxolo [Mbuyiselo Nombewu’s brother] and my younger sister rushed there and because they knew her well, they immediately recognised her.

“She [was] burnt badly but we could still recognise her. She was burnt in the body, partly in the head and back. They also recognised a piece of an umbrella she was carrying when she went missing. They called at around 11am … police were already on the scene.”

The suspect was arrested later on on Sunday and was expected to appear in the Klerksdorp magistrate’s court on Tuesday.

Mbuyiselo said the family’s grief increased when the identity of the suspect was revealed.

“It hurt even more because we would have never thought of him. Everyone knows and respects him. We know him as a quiet person who loves church,” he said. “He knows everyone here at home, from the oldest to the youngest person. It’s truly shocking.”

He said the family would be in court on Tuesday when the suspect is due to make his first appearance.

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Sihle Manda
Sihle Manda is a senior reporter at the GCIS. He previously covered local government and investigations at The Mercury, The Star and the Mail & Guardian.

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