Remains of seven children found

Alex Matlala

Alex Matlala

Fear continues to haunt residents of the tiny township of Phahameng in Modimolle, in Limpopo, after police discovered the remains of children who went missing in 2004.

The remains were found in a mountain adjacent to the area, after police launched a massive search for the children last week.

The search, which started in the morning and ended at dusk, was joined by members of the community, including parents of the children.

A total of 10 children have gone missing since 2004. Of the 10, seven have been murdered and three are still missing.

Two girls, aged four and five, miraculously escaped death after being brutally raped by unknown assailants.

Police believe there is a serial killer on the loose in the area responsible for these senseless killings.

The police had during the search last week discovered the remains of bodies believed to be those of the the missing children.

The remains have been sent for forensic tests in Pretoria. The outcome of the results is hoped to shed light for police investigations.

"The remains were hidden in a cave in a mountain adjacent to the village.

"Although we are not sure whose bones were recovered and who is responsible for the crimes, we strongly believe they belonged to some of the children who fell prey to the perpetrator," said senior Limpopo police spokesman, Superintendent Motlafela Mojapelo, yesterday.

Mojapelo warned that results of the forensic tests may take a while to come back, "but we advise the bereaved families to cross their fingers and believe that the law will take its course," he said.

"We have put aside R250000 as a reward for anyone with information that could help to bring the perpetrators to book," he said.

The discovery of the remains has brought shock, fear, anger and frustration among villagers.

The villagers have accused the police of working at a snail's pace in tracking down the killers.

The villagers claim that the perpetrators were known even by the police.

"They know them, eat with them and sleep with them, but they fail to put them behind bars," said an angry villager, who wished his name be withheld.

Police, on the other hand, are saying the community know the killers, but were afraid to go public as the killers were said to be dangerous.

Refilwe Ringane, 10, a Grade 2 pupil in the area, went missing on June 5 after she was sent to the shop to buy bread.

Her battered little body was only discovered five days later in the mountains, outside the village.

She had been raped and then strangled. She was buried a week later.

Refilwe's father, Joseph Makua, says the community should be extra careful.

He advised the community to teach children not to allow strangers to send them on errands.

A four-year-old is lucky to have survived her abduction and rape ordeal.

Her mother, said her daughter was abducted on May 19.

The child was abducted by an unknown man while she was playing outside her home.

But luckily she was found alive the day after she had vanished. She was crying, naked and had been raped.

Her tiny neck had scratch marks.

She had also sustained serious injuries to her genitals. She was admitted to Polokwane Hospital for two weeks.

The mother said she had moved her child to live in another place "because no one can look after her while I am at work".

The community met yesterday in a bid to elect a sector policing forum that would help to monitor crime at night.