Two men have been charged with the murder of 10-year-old Charnelle McCrawl after her body was found at the Consol Glass sand mine in Athlone last Friday.
Her badly beaten body was found after an extensive search by police, family, friends, the community safety forum and neighbourhood watch members, said Manenberg police spokesman Captain Ian Bennett.
TheGrade4EdendalePrimary School pupil had been sexually assaulted, he said.
“She was covered with a sheet, and a canvas bag was placed over her,” said Captain Bennett.
ManenbergCommunityPolice Forum (CPF) chairman Kader Jacobs said they had planned a search for Friday morning, but the family had gone out earlier, which was when the child’s grandmother found her body.
Captain Bennett said police took four men in for questioning on Saturday and Sunday but later released two of them.
One of the men, said Captain Bennett, was brought in for his own safety afterthecommunityassaultedand threatened to kill him on Friday night.
Yesterday, two of the men, aged 32 and 34 were arrested and charged. They were due to appear in court this morning.
Captain Bennett said sniffer-dog evidence found at the crime scene allegedly linked them to Charnelle’s death.
Roegchanda Pascoe, chairwoman of the Manenberg Community Safety Forum and Edendale Primary’s school governing body, said Charnelle’s family had grown worried when she did not return home from school by 4pm on Thursday.
“Her grandmother then went to look for her, and later in the evening went to the police station to ask for assistance,” she said.
Captain Bennett said Charnelle had been placed in the care of her grandmother.
“The family is distraught, especially after they had been going through a trying time,” he said.
Ms Pascoe said Charnelle’s body had been found fully clothed but one shoe had been missing as well as her backpack.
She said the child’s murder had shocked the community.
“Nobody can give any leads as to where she was last seen. This is not the Manenberg that we know. I think people think it was gang-related because no one is saying anything and in Manenberg we all look out for each other’s children.
“Either she witnessed somethingthattheperpetrators didn’t want her to see, or it is a result of someone on drugs, or it relates to home,” she said.
MsPascoe describedCharnelle as a very disciplined child at school who had never given her teachers any hassles.
“I want to urge the community to stand together in this, that’s all,” said Ms Pascoe.
Captain Bennett said the family was trying to raise money for Charnelle’s funeral.
“There are rumours that the police aren’t doing enough, but we are urging the community to safeguard their children and stand together. They need to constantly check up on their children, as they are vulnerable. People who are closest to them are often the ones committing crimes against children,” he warned.
He also said the community needed to report on the perpetrators of crime.
Community activist Hanif Loonat said appealed to parents to assess the types of people who frequented their homes.
“We are losing too many children and this has become a norm in the community. We need to protect our children and watch who we expose them to,” he said.
Mr Loonat said it is often the people closest to children who hurt them.
“This is not done on the spur of the moment; it is long planned,” he said.
Mr Jacobs agreed saying that at a time when children were so easily kidnapped and trafficked, parents should know where they were are at all times.
“Parents need to find a way to always know where their children are, and they must take action if their child doesn’t follow their normal routine,” he said.