Ayakha Jiyane's chilling words to friends the day she was found hanged
"If anything happens just know I was kidnapped or something has happened to me."
These were the last words Ayakha Jiyane, 16, uttered to her friends before she left school on Tuesday, escorted down Pinetown's main road by her stepfather.
The grade 11 Pinetown Girls' High School (PGHS) pupil's lifeless body was discovered hanging in a bush in New Germany, west of Durban, by police that night.
Ayakha's stepbrothers, aged 4 and 10, and her stepsister, 6, had been discovered hanging in their Wyebank home earlier in the day by their mother.
Police have arrested a man in connection with the murders.
Ayakha would usually travel in a lift club but on that fateful day she had been met by her stepfather who was on foot.
Speaking exclusively to SowetanLIVE's sister publication TimesLIVE, in the presence of her parents, Ayakha's friend and fellow pupil, Ntando Dlamini, spoke of how she had witnessed Ayakha's stepfather, whom she knows personally, pick her up from school shortly after 3pm.
"I had an umbrella and she stood behind the umbrella. I asked her why she was hiding and she said that she was just adjusting the umbrella."
She said a few seconds later Ayakha's stepfather shouted at her to hurry up.
"He shouted and said 'Ayakha let's go' and that was the last time I saw her."
It was at this time that the girl uttered her final and prophetic words to her friends.
Ntando, who was visibly upset and could barely contain her emotions, said Ayakha's stepfather had been wearing blue overalls and carrying a small black backpack.
"As they walked off he took Ayakha's bag and she took his."
A PGHS official described Ayakha as a "highly academic'' pupil who had recently represented the school and received an outstanding award at the University of KwaZulu-Natal's annual Masakhane Youth Leadership Course.
Jennifer Lategan, a counsellor and head of the religious body Sisters in Jesus at PGHG, of which Ayakha was deputy head, said she had watched Ayakha grow in her schooling career since grade 8.
Lategan said Ayakha was like her daughter.
"She was happy for a long time and then recently there was a bit of trouble at home. She was sad about things that were happening at home. Her stepdad loved her, she loved her stepdad. He was like her daddy from when she was little. He was happy for her when she did well. So something must have happened," she said.
Meanwhile, school governing body chair Joseph Sibiya said it was time for men to take action and do something to stop the violence against women and children.
"I think as men we need to take a stand because we cannot leave this in the hands of law enforcement agencies because they usually react after such things have happened. People committing such atrocities are people who are living in our communities and we can play a role in preventing such evil things happening in our communities," he said.
Community members and the media gathered outside the family home in in Wyebank as news broke about the tragedy.
Neighbours have described the family as normal and the children as loving.
KwaZulu-Natal social development MEC Nonhlanhla Khoza is expected to meet the mother of the slain children on Wednesday.
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