Murdered Giyani girl (11) found in dam had missing body parts, family say

Tiyiselani Rikhotso when she was younger. The 11-year-old was killed and her body found in a dam near Giyani.
Tiyiselani Rikhotso when she was younger. The 11-year-old was killed and her body found in a dam near Giyani.

The family of an 11-year-old girl whose dismembered body was found in a dam suspects she was murdered for ritual purposes.

Tiyiselani Rikhotso from Ndengeza village, about 40km west of Giyani in Limpopo, was reported missing on Sunday and her body was found on Tuesday in the Klein Letaba Dam.

Her discovery was preceded by a protest by the community, who went on a rampage, blockading roads.

Tiyiselani's grandmother Christina Rikhotso, 59, said she suspected Tiyiselani was hacked with a panga as she had several open and deep wounds on her body.

"I saw those wounds on her body and they were very scary. Her right leg was chopped and still missing as we speak.

"I think she was killed elsewhere and thrown into the dam.

"If her murder is not for muthi, what will one do with a child's leg?"

Rikhotso said Tiyiselani was found in the dam after some children tipped off community members that they saw her in the company of an unknown man.

"On our way to the dam, we found her doek and we became convinced she was thrown in there," she said.

The grandmother said she was in church when Tiyiselani went missing on Sunday.

"I left her with her other siblings at home in the morning. Later in the day, I received a call that Tiyiselani was missing. I quickly called a few neighbours and we combed the local bushes and could not find her.

"In the afternoon, I went to the police to report a missing person. I even told them that we suspect her body was in the dam and they told me they would wait for a search and rescue team and sniffer dogs."

Police spokesperson Brig Motlafela Mojapelo said a manhunt for the killer(s) had been launched.

"The discovery was made by community members who then called the police.

"On arrival at the scene, the police retrieved the body and discovered that some of her body parts were missing," Mojapelo said.

Mojapelo said the motive for the murder was unknown at this stage but said that murder for body parts could not be ruled out.

Tiyiselani's father Thulani Rikhotso said he was shocked and in disbelief about his daughter's murder.

"I arrived on Wednesday from Gauteng to see for myself. My brother, I'm heartbroken. I want police to find her killers soon," he said.

MEC for social development Nkakareng Rakgoale has also reacted with shock to the incident.

"Incidents such as this one are again putting in the spotlight the general safety of our children in communities.

"I cannot begin to imagine how a person can decide to take away an innocent soul just like that.

"We are once again appealing to parents and communities to always keep a close eye on children who are in their vicinity," Rakgoale said.

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