grandad held over dead girl

Tebogo Monama and Themba Molefe

Tebogo Monama and Themba Molefe

The grandfather of a three-year-old girl who went missing until her decomposed body was found two weeks later will appear in court today.

In a new twist to the saga that gripped Majakaneng village near Brits in North West, the 43-year-old man, who led police to believe he and his girlfriend were hijacked and kidnapped, was arrested at KwaMhlanga in Mpumalanga on Sunday.

Boitumelo Maripane went missing on February 8 while playing with friends outside her home.

Her decomposed body was discovered at a farm 10 days later, covered with a black refuse bag and a mealie sack.

Police received a tip-off from members of the community about Boitumelo's body.

Shortly after the girl's body was found her grandfather and grandmother, Edna Maripane, 43, disappeared.

Edna Maripane was found in the veld in Bethany and was admitted to hospital with several stab wounds to her body.

Rustenburg police spokesman Captain Elsabe Augustide said: "We have established that the grandfather was lying when he said that he was hijacked.

"The grandfather is also a suspect in the child's murder and we are still investigating."

The man will appear in the Brits magistrate's court on charges of murder, attempted murder and abduction.

But, by yesterday afternoon the child's parents, Lucas Mabua and Linda Maripane, both 22, had not identified the body of their only child.

"I cannot say that it was my child. I have not seen the body," said Mabua.

On Sunday, the body was identified by Lucky Mkhondo, a member of the community team set up to search for the child.

Despite Mabua's misgivings, Mkhondo yesterday insisted that the body was that Mabua's daughter, Boitumelo.

Mabua and his wife also claimed police had not informed them about the grandfather's arrest.

"No one from the police called us. We heard it from a local councillor," said Mabua.