Residents in Malamulele, Limpopo, have been urged to speak out against ritual murders following the murder of 16-year-old Rirhandzu Manganyi, who was found dead a week ago with some body parts missing.
The girl, who was popularly known as Rhandzu at her village, was finally laid to rest at Gumbani cemetery near Malamulele on Sunday.
At the funeral service, which was attended by Public Service and Administration Minister Faith Muthambi and Lim 345 Mayor Joyce Bila, the sombre mood showed a community that was still horrified, deeply saddened and speechless by the gruesome murder of Rhandzu.
The grade 6 learner from Hlaulekani Primary school went missing on 2 July, when she left her home to relieve herself in the nearby bushes, only to be discovered dead five days later near the Shingwedzi River. Her mutilated body was found by local boys who went fishing to the same river.
While the motive behind the brutal death of Rhandzu is still unknown, residents are speculating that the deceased was killed for muti purposes. Police have since not yet arrested any suspects.
Minister Muthambi has urged residents to assist the police and provide them with any information that could help find the alleged killers.
"Fighting crime is not the duty of the police alone, but a collective task of both the police and you as the community. If you want to see the police making a breakthrough in this case, give them information. If you remember something on the death of Rhandzu, write it down on the paper and send it to the police through suggestion boxes and I promise your name will be protected.
"Death brings sadness, no matter who is dying. When we lose someone we love, it's devastating. It is sad and devastating to see a precious life being lost in the hands of ritual killers. Hadn't ritual killers cut short her precious life, Rhandzu would have joined us in celebrating Mandela Day," the Minister said.
Minister Muthambi urged residents to go back to the basics of caring for their neighbours. "You must be concerned about the well-being of your neighbour. You must care about your neighbour no matter how poor the person is. If you don't care about your neighbour, there is something wrong with you," she said.
Local traditional leader Richard Mabasa also known as Hosi Mukhomi said he was still saddened by the death of Rhandzu. "I am hopeful that the police will arrest the perpetrators very soon. In the history of this area, we've never experienced a gruesome murder like this," he said.
Mayor Bila urged residents to speak out against ritual murders. "We don't want our area to be known as the playing ground for murderers," she said.