Child rapist and murderer given three life sentences
MINENTLE Lekhatha’s mother, Thandiswa Lekhatha, said an apology from the man who kidnapped, brutally raped and murdered her five-year-old daughter would not bring her dead child back.
“I have to live with the fact that I have lost my child because of you,” she said.
Lekhatha was testifying in sentencing proceedings for convicted child murderer Xolani Lantu.
Yesterday, Judge Derek Wille sentenced Lantu to three life terms – on one murder count and two rape counts.
He added an additional five years for the kidnapping count.
In her testimony, Lekhatha told the court the pain of losing her first-born and only daughter was indescribable.
Minentle went missing on June 3 last year. Her body was discovered the following day, under a bridge in Soet River, Strand.
Lantu was her grandmother’s boyfriend and at the time of the murder they had just broken up.
The bereaved mother said she had future plans for her daughter.
Lekhatha said her son and only other child, who was three at the time of the murder, was highly affected by Minentle’s death.
“My son got counselling. After her death he became a bully, hitting other children and refused to go back to the crèche that they had both attended. We needed to change schools for him,” she said.
Lantu, 35, has five children aged five to 14.
He admitted to killing Minentle, but said his actions were influenced by alcohol.
Judge Wille said he was not convinced that alcohol consumption justified deviation from the prescribed minimum sentence of life imprisonment.
He questioned the sincerity of Lantu’s remorse. “This is a case where a five-year-old considered the accused as her (friend).
“She trusted this man and he takes her away, brutally rapes her twice and chokes her to death. He stays quiet about it even after her family asks whether he knows of her whereabouts.
“Is it true remorse, deepseated remorse or superficial remorse thrown out there to get a lighter sentence?”
Judge Wille said Lantu was caught on CCTV footage which he could not argue against. National Prosecuting Authority regional spokesperson Eric Ntabazalila said the sentence was welcomed.
“The tenacity of State prosecutor Maria Marshall in ensuring a suitable sentence against the accused cannot be over emphasised. She rejected the accused’s plea of guilty when she was unhappy with the accused’s factual allegations forcing the court to enter a plea of not guilty for him.
“Because of that, she secured a successful conviction and a sentence fitting the crime,” Ntabazalila said.