Minentle called her alleged rapist, killer ‘chomi’
THE grandmother of murdered Strand girl Minentle Lekhatha has broken her silence about the pain and heartbreak her former lover has caused her and her family.
Xolani Lantu, 35, appeared in the Strand Magistrate’s Court on Thursday in connection with the June rape and murder of the 5-year-old.
Minentle’s body was found in 1m- deep water below a bridge along the Soet River, about 800m from her Nomzamo home where she was last seen playing with friends.
“She was a happy and active child. He (Lantu) was friendly towards her and she use to call him ‘chomi’ (friend). He never showed any signs of violence towards her or any of my children,” Thelma Bomela said.
The 49-year-old has been reluctant to confirm or deny she’d had a relationship with the suspect, but revealed to Weekend Argus the affair with her younger lover.
Bomela said she met Lantu in 2012 through a mutual friend and began dating in late 2013.
“When we met he seemed decent and an upstanding man. We shared a love for soccer and we both favoured Orlando Pirates. We would often watch games together,” she recalled.
Bomela would not say when the relationship ended, but said it was due to his heavy drinking and bullying.
A distraught Bomela said she could not imagine why Lantu could have hurt her beloved grandchild.
“I never regarded Minentle as my grandchild; she was my last born. He knew how close we were and how much I loved her. If he was mad at me and wanted to punish me, like he said to the detectives, why didn’t he do what he did to her to me?”
Bomela recalled how she’d begun noticing an abusive and aggressive side to her partner, which prompted her to cool things off with him. “As time went on, I realised he was not good for me, he was a bully and a heavy drinker.”
The mother- of- three said her jilted lover had not only emotionally torn her apart, but also tarnished her reputation.
“Thanks to him people have been saying all sorts of things about me. How can people even begin to imagine I would sell my own flesh and blood out like that? The way people have been talking about me is really hurtful and it is all because of him,” she said.
Two doors away from Minentle’s home is a tavern. Next to it is a thoroughfare to the Thembeni informal settlement, where the accused rapist and killer lived – just metres from the little girl’s home.
But said Bomela, this was not the route taken by her grand-daughter’s snatchers.
During his court appearance this week, Lantu, dressed in a pair of faded black jeans and a green jacket, sporting short dreadlocks, smiled at the packed courtroom.
His case was postponed to October 10, Bomela’s 50th birthday.
Members of the Lekhatha family who were in court said they were angered by Lantu’s apparent lack of remorse.
Minentle’s uncle, Ernst Lekhatha, told media the family was upset that the person accused of the rape, murder and kidnapping of the little girl was someone who “has never shown an ounce of remorse since the first day”.
He added that in spite of their grief, the family would allow the law to take its course. “There is nothing we can do but her memory lives on, I will always miss her. When I visited her home, she would grab my car keys and sit in my car because she would be afraid I would leave without her. She also loved singing.
“We are getting by as a family,” Lekhatha said.
Minentle’s was the 21st killing in a spate of murders of little girls in the Western Cape since January this year.
Earlier this week, the body of 5-year-old Kaithlyn Wilson was found in bushes a few kilometres from her Bloedrivier, Riebeek West home. She was found on Sunday after- noon, just hours after she disappeared.
The little girl’s eyes and nose were allegedly covered with black tape and something had been stuffed in her mouth.
Two suspects, one of whom is the ex-boyfriend of Kaithlyn’s mother, are in custody.
Women protest outside the Strand Magistrate’s Court during the appearance of Xolani Lantu, 35, accused of the murder, kidnapping and rape of 5-year-old Minentle Lekhatha.
Murdered Minentle Lekhatha’s family arrive at the court in Strand. The 5-year-old’s aunt and uncles, Puseletso Lekhatha, Kutlwano Lekhatha and Ernest Lekhatha spoke to journalists.