Khayelitsha men praised for agreeing to DNA tests to solve rape, murder case

Would you give investigators a DNA sample to help investigators narrow down their search for a child rapist and murderer?

This is what the men of Town Two in Cape Town's suburb of Khayelitsha agreed to in their determination to help catch the man who raped and killed 4-year-old Iyapha Yamile, the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) said on Tuesday.

They even got a special mention from Western Cape High Court Acting Judge Diane Davis who commended the "innovative" approach in helping to solve the case of Yamile's murder and rape and the rape of another child.

"I would finally like to congratulate and commend the members of the community of Khayelitsha," said Davis after handing down three life sentences to Odwa Nkololo on Tuesday morning.

"Because without your great help to the police, justice would not have been done."

READ: 3 life sentences for man who raped, murdered 4-year-old Iyapha Yamile

Western Cape NPA spokesperson Eric Ntabazalila said the success of this case was the result of co-operation between communities, the police and the prosecuting team that helped advocate Thabo Ntela secure two rape convictions and a murder conviction.

Charges withdrawn against three suspects

Ntabazalila explained that on March 14, 2017, Nkololo raped the 7-year-old daughter of a woman he knew when the girl's mother had gone to work.

READ Suffer little children: The missing, the lost and the dead

The girl's mother confronted him but he denied it.

In April, a little more than a month later, Yamile disappeared from her home in Town Two.

Her family and neighbours searched frantically for her and her body was found dumped in a blue bag two streets away from where she lived.

Three young men were arrested for her murder, but the charges were withdrawn because there was no evidence linking them to the crime. The State had to explain to her family why the three were being set free.

"The State promised to do all that was humanly possible to ensure that the suspect or suspects were arrested and successfully prosecuted. Although it was difficult, they understood," continued Ntabazalila.

Nkololo 'evasive' about giving sample

"After a period without any leads, the State decided that the co-operation of the community must be sought which must include interviews and voluntary DNA samples from each male person in the close vicinity where the deceased's body was found.

"After community engagements, it was jointly decided that DNA samples would be taken from all the males and each male person would receive a receipt that proves that DNA sample has been sourced from him," said Ntabazalila.

He said everybody was on board, but neighbours told police that Nkololo was the only one apparently evading having the DNA samples taken.

"Police brought him in and asked him why he was evading the process. He gave flimsy reasons. DNA was taken from him, which matched the samples that were found on the private parts of the deceased," said Ntabazalila.

In the judgment that found Nkololo guilty of the rape of the 7-year-old girl and the rape and murder of Yamile, Davis noted the importance of the DNA evidence.

Nkololo pleaded not guilty to two charges of rape, one of murder and one of kidnapping. He said he had taken the 7-year-old girl's panties and tights off because she was having an epileptic fit. He said the bag that Yamile's body was found in had been stolen from him.

He was acquitted on the charge of kidnapping, but was found guilty on the two rape charges and the murder charge. He was sentenced to three life sentences to run concurrently.

Davis explained that the rape of a person under the age of 16, and a murder when the death of the victim was caused in committing or after committing the offence of rape, have a life sentenced attached to them. She said there was no reason to deviate from that.

She encouraged the community to continue helping the police.

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