The body of young Lihlumo Mzini, who went missing last Friday, has been found in a garden.
Residents of Dorchester Heights informal settlement in East London and police launched a search party soon after the eight-year-old girl’s disappearance.
On Sunday, her mother was arrested on a charged of child neglect.
She is due to appear in court soon.
On Tuesday, a shocked family told DispatchLIVE that Lihlumo’s body had been found in the very place they had searched at the weekend.
This fact and others have left the family unsettled and asking questions. Lihlumo was found naked near a community garden by a local man on Tuesday afternoon.
Provincial SAPS spokesperson Col Sibongile Soci confirmed the Cambridge police were summoned to a scene at Dorchester Heights informal settlement where the body of an unknown person was discovered on Tuesday afternoon.
“At this stage, we cannot confirm whether the body is that of an eight-year-old girl reported missing a few days ago, as the investigation is still continuing.
“A murder docket has been opened for further investigation,” she said.
After the little girl’s disappearance, a frantic search by the SAPS and the community ensued. Some East London residents flooded social media platforms pleading for help to find Lihlumo.
Residents called her aunt, Nolukholo Smanga, about the discovery of the body.
Smanga said: “We did search where the body was found. It left me with so many questions, because the person who did this is surely from our community.” Smanga and community members had been searching for two days with dogs in the area where the body was later found and they were suspicious about how the body suddenly appeared there.
On Friday morning, the girl’s mother asked Smanga about the whereabouts of her child after realising she did not spend the night at home. Smanga said: “I do not know how I am going to break the news to [the mother], as she is not home.“Losing a child is not something I wish upon anyone. Parents aren’t supposed to bury their children, especially at this young age.”
A source, who wanted to remain anonymous, said the informal settlement residents were traumatised.
“The person who found the body is still being questioned by the police. “Everyone is making their own assumptions because we are still wondering who is this cold-hearted person that would do such an inhuman act?”
With her voice breaking, Smanga said Lihlumo was a loving and playful child who enjoyed being around people. “Most of the time she would spend time at my house when her mother was not around, and she loved playing with her cousins. She was an expressive child.”
Smanga said there were two men who were drinking with the girl’s mother on Thursday night when Lihlumo was out at a friend’s house.
“One of these men has gone missing after we declared the child missing.
“The other is a bush dweller, and it has been difficult tracking his whereabouts.
“We want justice to be served, and Lihlumo’s killers to be found. That is the least we can do for her. She did not deserve to be treated like that.”
Missing Children SA says two other children went missing in Eastern Cape recently. Siyamthanda Jim, 8, from Komani, went missing in January; and Esethu Xethu, 14, from Willowvale, went missing in December.
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