Girl beaten to death with elec­tric ca­ble

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - FRONT PAGE - ME­LANIE PETERS

A FIF­TEEN-year-old Delft school­girl was beaten to death with an elec­tric cord, al­legedly by a rel­a­tive an­gry that she had skipped school.

Nce­bakazi Poleki, a Grade 8 pupil at Lei­den High School, was just days short of her 16th birth­day when she be­came an­other ca­su­alty in South African’s shock­ing child mur­der statis­tics.

Hor­ri­fied neigh­bours and friends claimed the man con­stantly beat Nce­bakazi. At times the young­ster was beaten so badly she stayed out of school, too em­bar­rassed and afraid to let any­one know of her or­deal.

Her prin­ci­pal and sev­eral teach­ers said she al­ways wore a smile so they thought noth­ing of the bruises she some­times had on her arms, or the scar left on her pretty face.

How­ever, be­hind that smile was a scared girl too afraid to ask for help.

Yes­ter­day, Cap­tain Joe Wil­son said that at 11pm on Thurs­day po­lice were called to a scene at Hom­tini Street, Lei­den, where they found the teenager’s body.

“It is al­leged that an ar­gu­ment occurred be­tween her and the man be­cause he found out that she had been miss­ing school. He then beat her with a piece of elec­tric wire.

“Pre­lim­i­nary in­ves­ti­ga­tions in­di­cated the de­ceased died from the beat­ing. He was ar­rested and charged with mur­der.”

He said an in­ves­ti­ga­tion was in progress and an au­topsy was be­ing done. The sus­pect would ap­pear in the Bel­lville Mag­is­trate Court on Mon­day.

Yes­ter­day, when the Week­end Ar­gus went to Delft, the fam­ily was in mourn­ing and the teenager’s mother re­fused to talk. Neigh­bours al­leged the man of­ten had vi­o­lent out­bursts, got drunk and hit Nce­bakazi.

A neigh­bour said she was a good child. “This is a ter­ri­ble thing. We are all to blame. Her mother is also to blame. The child died at 9pm and they only called the po­lice hours later. We saw him hit her al­most ev­ery day. In June he beat Nce­bakazi so badly he gave her a blue eye and she couldn’t go to school for a cou­ple of days.

“I can’t ex­plain how bad I feel. I blame my­self. I should have gone to the po­lice. We are all afraid of him be­cause he was of­ten vi­o­lent and drank a lot. He did ter­ri­ble things to her.”

School prin­ci­pal Haido Mteto said they were “dev­as­tated”. He had sent a let­ter with an­other pupil to her par­ents to find out why she had so of­ten missed school.

“She was a good pupil. She al­ways had a smile on her face so I thought noth­ing of the scar left from a cut across her face.”

He said he had a meet­ing with a rel­a­tive on Thurs­day. “I wanted to try to un­der­stand why she missed school so of­ten.”

He then fetched Nce­bakazi from a school soc­cer match she was play­ing in at an­other school. “That was the last time we saw her.”

Her Grade 8 teacher, Sk­way Ludonga, said the class­mate who de­liv­ered the let­ter to Nce­bakazi’s par­ents be­came emo­tional on hear­ing of the mur­der. “I had to con­sole her af­ter she started cry­ing in class. She feels like she is to blame. She said that if she hadn’t de­liv­ered the let­ter, then Nce­bakazi would still be alive.”

A close school friend said Nce­bakazi was very scared of the man. She some­times com­plained about the abuse. “He did other things to her too. I al­ways told her that she would have no fu­ture if she stayed in that house. Now she is dead.”

Her soc­cer coach, Afrika Tshona, said he had seen “bruises and scratches” on her arms at soc­cer prac­tice. But when he asked her if some­thing was wrong she would re­ply with a smile “that it was a long story”.

“Her death has got me won­der­ing how many other chil­dren are be­ing abused at this school and how we get them to open up to us.

“We are all very sad. On Thurs­day she was laugh­ing and talk­ing to us. Lit­tle did we know it would be the last time we would see her.”

Close to 1 500 chil­dren were mur­dered last year and 1 630 the year be­fore. Th­ese were the star­tling statis­tics re­leased this week as Na­tional Women’s Month, which high­lights abuse against women and chil­dren, draws to an end. They were put be­fore Par­lia­ment’s women, youth, chil­dren and peo­ple with dis­abil­i­ties port­fo­lio com­mit­tee when the po­lice and non-profit or­gan­i­sa­tion Child­line ad­dressed the com­mit­tee.

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