School reels in shock, anger at murder of pupil

Lenyaro Sello

Lenyaro Sello

She was quiet, cheerful, loved to dance and could not stand a sad face.

This was how Thato Radebe's friends and schoolmates at Bedfordview High School in Johannesburg described her.

Thato, 14, was raped and then killed at the weekend. Liquor bottles, two used condoms and blood-splattered stones, which were found near her body, painted a horrific picture of what the 14-year-old went through.

Her lifeless body, still in school uniform, was found by community members near Emdeni Library in Soweto.

Entering the school, silence and disbelief characterised the mood the day after the news of Thato's death.

Students were standing in groups, some were angry and others were shocked and morose.

"I wish we could get the bastards," said a boy in one group.

"On Thursday she said she will pray for me, I asked why and she said she will tell me on Monday," said Palesa Zwane, 14, recalling the last moments she spent with her close friend.

"On Friday she gave me a hug, but little did I know that was the last time I would see her," she said.

Palesa, who has been at school with Thato since grade 1, was still in shock yesterday.

Thomas Mhlanga, the deputy principal, said: "The kids are battling to come to terms with what happened, it is a traumatic time for everyone."

Mhlanga said the school was arranging a memorial service with the family, to be held at the school.