In an attack that has spread shock and anger across South Africa, two young girls aged just two and three were kidnapped, raped and murdered in the town of Diepsloot, Johannesburg.
Cousins Yonelisa and Zandile Mali were snatched from their doorstep in broad daylight, only for their young, mutilated bodies to be discovered days later in a public toilet nearby, on October 15.
According to Yonelisa’s mum, Thokozani Mali, Yonelisa is her only child.
She said that the girls were playing just outside the house and she was checking on them every five minutes. Only for them to go silent.
She alerted relatives, neighbours and police, who combed the area – one of the most violent places in South Africa – in a bid to find them.
Talking to CNN, Yonelisa’s mum said she cannot bear to talk about her loss.
‘I am trying to be strong. When I am sleeping, she always next to me, so when I think of that I feel like crying..
Five men have been arrested for the kidnap, rape and murder of the girls and briefly appeared at a Pretoria court on Thursday. Their identities have yet to be made public.
Public protests followed the discovery of the bodies, with one person holding a banner that read ‘hand these dogs over to us and the people of Diepsloot’.
The murder of the girls, and torture of a young boy in Katlehong, were condemned by South African President Jacob Zuma last week.
‘These gruesome incidents of extreme torture and murder of our children do not belong to the society that we are continuously striving to build together.
Whilst we appeal to the communities not to take the matters into their hands, we also want to urge them to work with law enforcement authorities to find the perpetrators and prosecute them to the fullest extent of the law.’
There are 55,000 reported cases of sexual violence a year in South Africa, according to the country’s Medical Research Council.
But the organisation says that the real figure is masked by the fact that many attacks go unreported.
Justice in Diepsloot is often meted out by mobs – the nearest police station is 10 miles away.