UK cops in SA to track down fire suspect

TWO British detectives from Sussex police's major crime branch are in South Africa to try and find the prime suspect in a murder inquiry, the British High Commission has confirmed.

TWO British detectives from Sussex police's major crime branch are in South Africa to try and find the prime suspect in a murder inquiry, the British High Commission has confirmed.

They arrived in Johannesburg on Sunday.

The detectives are investigating the murder of six-year-old Dumo Sibanda, who died on October 26 2004, in a fire at her parents' home in Crawley, West Sussex.

"Members of her family managed to escape the blaze but Dumo was found inside," High Commission spokesperson Gary Benham said.

"She was taken to hospital where she was later pronounced dead."

"Detective Chief Inspector Steve Johns and Detective Inspector Trevor Bates will be working with officers in Johannesburg to try and locate George Champion Sithole, who is the prime suspect in the case. It is believed he fled to the African continent shortly after the fire.

"Police released details of Sithole when the initial investigation was launched, but enquiries both in England and South Africa failed to locate him. The case has remained open and now, following a review of the inquiry, the two detectives will be visiting South Africa to re-appeal for information in a bid to locate him."

Johns said: "Despite the case now being over five years old, it has never closed and we are determined to bring the offender to justice, for both Dumo and her family.

"We are very keen to speak to Sithole as we believe he could have vital information about this incident which will significantly assist us with our enquiries.

"Working with our counterparts in Johannesburg, we hope publicity about the case will encourage someone to tell us the whereabouts of Sithole or for him to speak to us directly.

"A little girl died in this fire, and her family, understandably, are still devastated by her untimely death.

"They need to have some closure to enable them to move on with their lives," Johns said. - Sapa

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