Granny pays tribute to 'brilliant' Soweto teen who was raped and murdered

Simphiwe Sibeko was raped and murdered in Jabulani, Soweto, last week.
Simphiwe Sibeko was raped and murdered in Jabulani, Soweto, last week.
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The latest teenager to be raped and murdered in Jabulani, Soweto, was a good child who spent a lot of time indoors and was a top achiever at school.   

This is according to the grandmother of Simphiwe Sibeko, a 14-year-old grade 9 pupil at Aurora Girls' High School, who never made it home after leaving to buy snacks.

"On Thursday it happened that she was going to the local spaza shop. She asked me if she should bring me snacks because we always shared everything," said Joyce Sibeko.

"She left and never came back." 

Attempts to locate the teen were unsuccessful and she couldn't be reached on her phone.

It was only at the weekend that the family heard that the body of a teenager had been found dumped near a stream several kilometres from their home.

Sibeko struggled to fight back tears as she detailed her last moments with her only grandchild, with whom she lived.

"She was still growing up. She was brilliant at school. At primary school she was a head girl. Even at high school she was in the top five. But her life was cut short," she told TimesLIVE. "The departure of such a young soul is painful."

Sibeko’s aunt Bongekile Phakathi was among the family members who visited the mortuary to identify the body.

"It was not easy. What we saw was really terrible … Her face seemed like it was not hers, like it had been rearranged. The only thing we could identify her with was the outfit and her birthmark," she said.

Education MEC Panyaza Lesufi visited the family on Monday. Community members also gathered to pledge their support, despite the lockdown regulations.

Lesufi said his department would cover all the burial costs, adding that it could not be business as usual after the incident.

"We will use our might as the state to speak to law enforcement agencies to dig deeper on this matter. We can’t have a person murdered like this and be business as usual. We really believe we need to hunt the killers and we need to provide the family with answers," said Lesufi at the family home.

The victim's grandmother called for a harsh sentence to perpetrators.

"They must get life imprisonment, with no visitors, because ... us as a family will never see our child ever again," said Sibeko.

She called on parents to ensure that young people do not walk alone. "Parents must never allow children to walk alone because you'll never know who is roaming in these streets. It's bad," she said.

Lesufi said his department would hold a memorial service for the teenager after the lockdown to allow other pupils to bid farewell.

Funeral arrangements have begun, although the family hopes that arrests will be made before Sibeko is laid to rest.  

Sibeko is the 23rd Gauteng pupil to be confirmed dead since the start of the 2020 academic year.