3 life sentences for man who raped, murdered 4-year-old Iyapha Yamile
Thirty-year-old father of two, Odwa Nkololo, was handed two life sentences for the rape and murder of 4-year-old Iyapha Yamile, plus another life sentence for the rape of a 7-year-old girl, in the Western Cape High Court on Tuesday.
Little Yamile's mother Sindiswe sank into the wooden bench of Court 6 and sobbed deeply after Acting Judge Diane Davis explained that there was nothing to convince her to deviate from the maximum possible punishment for what Nkololo had done to the girls.
"In my view, the prescribed minimum sentences are appropriate and justified in the circumstances," said Davis. She said the law allowed for a life sentence for the rape of a minor, as well as for the murder of a minor who had also been raped.
This was in line with Judge Robert Henney's sentence of life in prison for Andrew Plaatjies last week for the rape and murder of 13-year-old Rene Roman.
Little Yamile disappeared in Khayelitsha on Easter Sunday in 2017. She was last seen playing with friends. A massive search was organised, with residents trawling the area with a loudhailer calling for her. A plastic bag containing her body was dumped near her house the next day.
Some shacks were burnt down by angry residents and four people were arrested, but charges against three of them were dropped.
Nkololo had faced four charges. They were: two charges of rape relating to Yamile and the 7-year-old daughter of a girlfriend; one charge of kidnapping; and one charge of murder.
He pleaded not guilty to all the charges. He was acquitted of kidnapping, but found guilty of the two rapes and the murder.
He offered a plea explanation with regard to what happened to the 7-year-old child who may not be named. He had lived in the same house as her, and he said he had merely removed her panties and tights when she had an epileptic fit to cool her down. He said he had no knowledge of what happened to Yamile. She was raped a month before Yamile's rape and murder.
Davis said that Nkololo's personal circumstances showed that, although he had been raised by his father and a grandparent, his background seemed to be stable. He had dropped out of school in Grade 11 and moved to Khayelitsha to live with his mother, and had been employed for short periods.
He had completed community service for a 2014 theft charge, and had shown no previous leanings towards violence. Davis noted that his family had not come to court and did not seem to want anything to do with him.
The public gallery was full as Davis handed down her sentence. Some relatives had printed T-shirts bearing a picture of Yamile in a pink dress and blue tackies, smiling brightly. Members of the ANC Women's League and the DA Women's Network also arrived for the sentencing.
'Her body was callously dumped in a street'
Davis explained that medical evidence showed that Yamile had also sustained injuries to her private parts before she was murdered.
"She would undoubtedly have suffered great fear and pain before she died," said Davis.
"Her body was callously dumped in a street in a garbage bag and left for her loved ones to find."
Davis said that, even though Nkololo had already spent a year in jail, she would not deviate from the life sentences.
Yamile's mother and aunts could not contain their grief for long enough for Davis to leave the court, and wailed and railed against Nkololo as he was led away by police.
Outside the court, holding her head high and with a trembling chin, Yamile's mother Sindiswa - dressed in black mourning clothes - said simply: "I am happy with the judgment. But, I am not okay."
Yamile's aunt Nomakazi told News24 that the anxiety and fear the family felt when she first disappeared had never left them and that the whole family was constantly afraid that something would happen to their other children.
Judge lauds residents, police
Davis also commended the residents of Khayelitsha for their part in bringing the case to finality, although she condemned the burning of shacks in the early stages of the investigation.
"Because, without your great help to the police, justice would not have been done," she said.
"And I encourage you to always participate in this way with the police, because this is the best way to do justice, rather than burning down houses."
She also commended the police for the innovative way in which they had investigated the case with DNA testing.
This involved collecting voluntary DNA samples from men in Town Two. Somebody tipped police off that Nkololo was giving them the slip and so they narrowed their focus to him and eventually arrested him.
NPA spokesperson Eric Ntabazalila said they were pleased with the conviction and sentences.
An ANC Women's League supporter, Nompelelo Tywakadi, said the sentence was a good lesson as women's month draws to a close.
"The Western Cape court has taken a good stand," she said.
DA Women's Network activist Phumla Mdini said: "We have given birth to these men that are monsters today, but we are not afraid to say that they do not belong in our democracy."