Siphamandla Madikane was a ten-year-old boy from the Ramaphosa informal settlement in South Africa. On Sunday the 3rd of November, 2013, power was out in the area so Siphamandla and his mother, Nokukhanya went to the nearby store to purchase some paraffin.
While at the store, Nokukhanya bumped into some of his friends and asked if he could play with them. His mother agreed. However, when he hadn’t returned home by 7PM that evening, his parents reported him missing and began conducting their own search, assisted by other members of the community.
According to Siphamandla’s friends, there was a man who had been watching them play for quite some time and then approached them. He asked the group of boys to go and call his girlfriend for him and offered whoever agreed R5. Three of the boys refused but Siphamandla agreed and walked off with the anonymous man, never to return.1
The following morning, a missing person report was filed at Reiger police station. At around 2PM, Nathaniel Maleho, who lived a few kilometres away from the Madikane family, went to relieve himself in a bush since there was no water in the toilets. Hidden among the bushes, he saw small legs. Terrified, he ran to get two local men who returned to the scene to investigate. What they found would traumatise them.
It was the semi-naked and burnt body of Siphamandla. His pants and underwear were pulled down and he had been stabbed in the neck and then set on fire. A pair of socks had been stuffed into his mouth and a used condom was discarded beside his body.2
Following the grim discovery, Siphamandla’s parents would publicly state that when they reported him missing, police ignored them. Spokesman for the police, Captain Tsekiso Mofokeng, claimed that the family had not reported him missing until Monday. However, Siphamandla’s family said that this was untrue. Thad reported him missing on Sunday evening and had conducted their own search for him; they said that police had never shown up.
Captain Mofokeng said that they would be investigating the actions of the police and would later confirm that the family had reported Siphamandla missing on the Sunday.
Ekurhuleni mayor, Mondli Gungubele, offered to pay for the funeral of Siphamandla, stating that it was the least the municipality could do to ensure he receive a decent burial.3 He said: “In fact, as I got the gory details of the incident, I felt shivers going down my spine wondering how another person can carry out such a brutal attack on a helpless boy.”4
Sadly, the case went cold and the following year, Siphamandla’s family took part in the DA march to the national headquarters of the South African Police Service (SAPS). They held signs which read: Enough is enough!” The march was intended to highlight the need for the restructuring of the police service as well as the provision of better services to communities ravaged by crime.
The family said that while a year had passed, there had been no progress in the murder case. His sister, Bongiwe Madikane, said: “My brother’s body was found on November 4 and only after calling numerous times were we told last month that there is an investigator working on the case. We ask them why they don’t communicate with us and no one can answer us.”5
There had been a spate of attacks on children across the country in the recent months. Also in attendance at the march was the parents of 3-year-old Cuburne Lavone van Wyk, who was found murdered and burnt at a mine dump in the Ramaphosa informal settlement around nine months after Siphamandla was killed. His killer, Nathaniel Katlego Mpoku, was arrested on the 31st of October.
Gauteng Premier David Makhura pledged that the murder would be solved, stating: “Child killers will be brought to book and will face the law.” He also said that they were going to be looking into whether the murder of Siphamandla and Cuburne were somehow linked due to the similarities.6
As the months transformed into years, the case just went colder and colder. Despite the fact that a plethora of evidence was left behind, nobody has ever been arrested for Siphamandla’s murder. Mpoku was convicted of Cuburne’s murder and Siphamandla’s mother attended each day of the trial, hoping that he would confess to murdering her son as well. That confession, however, never came and he has never been implicated in the murder.
The murder of Siphamandla Madikane remains unsolved today but his family still hold out hope that one day, it will be solved and justice will be served. Nokukhanya, has said: “I’ve been praying that Mandla can fight for himself from the grave and show us who killed him.”7
- Pretoria News, 6 November, 2013 – “Cops Ignored Us – Family of Slain Boy”
- Sowetan, 6 November, 2013 – “Missing Boy Found Dead”
- The Star, 8 November, 2013 – “News”
- Pretoria News, 9 November, 2013 – “Life Oped Readers”
- Pretoria News, 14 November, 2014 – “Tears as Crime Victims go on March”
- AllAfrica, 25 November, 2014 – “Child Killers to Face the Law”
- News 24, 1 September, 2015 – “I Just Need to Know Who Killed my Child, Says Grieving Mom”