Little hero of Jan Kempdorp
A heroic six-year-old boy tragically paid with his life as he tried to protect his mother from a violent attacker
Her face awash with tears, Segomotsi Garesape approached the lifeless body of her six-year-old son as he lay sprawled between the railway tracks.
She had just seen him killed. Kutlwano was tossed in the air, throttled and disembowelled.
The little boy had been standing in the way of Teselo Dikole (32), who had allegedly tried to stab and rape Segomotsi one August morning as she walked with her sons to school in the Northern Cape town of Jan Kempdorp.
Like David in the shadow of Goliath, Kutlwano doggedly fought with his tiny fists to get his mother out of her attacker’s clutches. He succeeded, but paid with his life. Segomotsi rushed towards the railway line as Kutlwano’s attacker fled, leaving behind a trail of blood and gore.
She and her older son Thabiso (8) watched helplessly as Kutlwano was thrown in the air, fell to the ground, and was then picked up and tossed a second time. After he hit the ground again, his stomach was slashed open with a broken bottle.
With his intestines exposed, his assailant grabbed a tree branch and started stabbing at his torn stomach repeatedly. His attacker then picked him up and threw him on the railway line, leaving him to die.
These are the heart-wrenching flashbacks that keep Segomotsi awake at night.
She has wept so much that she has no more tears to shed as she recounts the story. She now worries about Thabiso, who held his brother’s hand as he died after asking for one last kiss.
Three months later, Segomotsi remembers her son as a “loving and wilful young man who was his brother’s best friend”.
Kutlwano loved wrestling and had often taken on older boys and bullies at school.
“Just a few days before, he fought an older boy at school because he had taken his brother’s pen. I was called to intervene and reprimand him. He was not a naughty boy or a troublemaker, but wanted no one to touch his brother,” Segomotsi said.
“Everything stopped for him when wrestling was on television. He called himself John Cena [an American professional wrestler] and was very passionate about the sport.”
On the morning of August 12, Segomotsi, who works in the kitchen at Tau di a Rora School just outside Jan Kempdorp, was walking to school with her two boys.
“We were close to the school, which is about 8km from home, when Kutlwano started complaining that he was tired of walking and I carried his bag and held his hand, convincing him that we were almost there,” she said.
“I kept him busy with small talk as we walked. Suddenly, a man emerged from behind us.
“We were all relaxed because we saw that he was a What should we as a nation be doing in memory of brave Kutlwano? SMS us on 35697 using the keyword BRAVE and tell us what you think. Please include your name and province. SMSes cost R1.50 familiar face we often saw in town helping people push trolleys at the shops. The man came and asked me for R2. I told him I didn’t have it and we continued walking, but when I turned back, I saw him standing there with his face up, teeth clenched. His facial expression had changed to that of a really angry man.”
As they walked, Segomotsi said she heard Thabiso scream, and when she turned around, the same man was now wielding a broken bottle and was just about to stab her.
“He grabbed Kutlwano’s school bag and I went for the hand with a broken bottle and we started wrestling. Thabiso kept his distance while screaming. Kutlwano was right there next to us and started attacking the man,” she said.
“When the man started pulling my denim skirt, Kutlwano stood there with tears in his eyes screaming at him repeatedly: ‘This is my mother! Leave my mother!’
“He kicked, slapped and wrestled with his leg in a bid to get him off me.” Segomotsi said her son kept frustrating her attacker. “It was clear now that his plan was to rape me, but he turned to Kutlwano and said: ‘You are stubborn, neh?’ Kutlwano responded by slapping him and told him to let go of me ... he tried to deepen his voice to scare him, but Kutlwano wouldn’t budge,” she said.
Kutlwano then did what he saw on TV and flykicked the man.
“That was when he grabbed him and yelled, ‘You are stubborn, I can see’. But Kutlwano still bravely told him to his face: ‘This is my mum! This is mum!’ He then grabbed Kutlwano by his shoulders and threw him in the air,” Segomotsi said.
“When he landed for the second time, Kutlwano was pinned to the ground, throttled and I could see his red glove as he struggled to push the man away. I could see my boy lose power and get weaker by the second. The man then started stabbing him, slashing his stomach and left him to die.”
The attacker fled and Segomotsi rushed to her son’s side.
“My son was lying there and I could see his hand moving slowly as I approached. He softly said ‘Mama’ twice and asked me to hold him. I held him to my chest. His brother alerted me to Kutlwano’s intestines that were pouring out and he took off his shirt and jacket to cover him,” she said.
“While holding him on the rail tracks he said: ‘Mama, please kiss me’ and asked for one more kiss. Thabiso came close and knelt to give him a kiss ... I asked him, ‘Are you okay, Kutlwano?’ and he stretched out his hand and held his brother’s and took his last breath.” Segomotsi said they miss their little hero every day. “We miss his noise and everything. We have been robbed of a precious young life and his brother is suffering the most after witnessing the horrific attack,” she said.
“Thabiso’s trauma is not over yet as he still has to testify in court, but I am sure he will want to see Kutlwano’s killer pay for his evil deeds. For someone who can end an innocent life in such a cruel manner, he is a monster who deserves punishment, but we have confidence in the courts to do that. My son deserved no such cruelty.”
GRIEVING Segomotsi Garesape is still struggling to come to terms with the horrific murder of her son Kutlwano (inset)