Dream of own home & new school for teen son ends in tragedy in Klarinet
Thirteen-year-old Keitumetse Malefahlo's mother had recently bought a house in a new development in Klarinet, Witbank, and enrolled him at a new school. Their hope of a life together came to a brutal halt when he was killed by robbers.
A family member suspects that the robbers had been tracking the movements of the boy’s mother and perhaps knew that Keitumetse was home alone.
According to the boy’s great aunt Sanna Diale, the robbers had used an age-old trick of leaving a rock on the wall, signalling that the house was a target.
“People of Klarinet are seemingly aware of this thing of having a rock put on your wall. You, the owner of the house, may not take notice of it until it’s too late,” said Diale, who had come to the aid of the mourning mother. She herself is from Mamelodi in Pretoria.
“The police showed us the rock that had been put on the wall. We found it here. It’s a little brick,” she said.
Several years ago, community watch groups cautioned homeowners of the trend of marking houses with chalk drawings, rocks, empty chip packets, cold drink cans and cloths to share information with robbery gang members on things such as how many people are inside the home, whether these were elderly people, whether there were dogs or the potential of danger if the homeowner has a gun.
Diale was speaking to TimesLIVE from the home where Keitumetse had lost his life in the early hours of Monday morning.
A dent and a silver stain mark were left on a door frame, showing where the robbers had used a metallic tool to break open the burglar bars and gain access to the home.
The burglars had already placed their loot outside when they went back inside the house and shot dead Keitumetse who had been in his locked bedroom.
Brig Leonard Hlathi said police officers trying to piece together the murder believed that Keitumetse had perhaps heard the robbers, locked himself in his bedroom and shouted for help. In a bid to silence him, they returned to the house, broke his door down, suffocated him and then shot him dead.
Diale however, says they do not believe that is how things unfolded.
“It is not true that neighbours heard him screaming,” said Diale, adding that the neighbours were seemingly woken up by the sound of the gun.
Usually when he slept he would lock his bedroom door, so we don’t think he was necessarily hiding when he was attacked. He could have even been sleeping
“The neighbour from a few doors down had called the other neighbour, saying he could see people outside the house and that is when the neighbours came out,” Diale said.
“Usually when he slept he would lock his bedroom door, so we don’t think he was necessarily hiding when he was attacked. He could have even been sleeping,” Diale said.
She believed it was possible that Keitumetse had seen the faces of the attackers and that had given them reason to kill him. Perhaps he even knew them, she said.
Keitumetse’s family believes one of the people who was possibly involved in his killing or has knowledge of who is behind the crime had returned to the house hours after the incident.
“At around 8 or 9am on Monday, there is a young man who came here while the community was still gathered here. He pretended to be curious as well. The detectives were still here. They called him and questioned him [with regards to] what he knew about the crime. He answered by saying he needed to make a phone call but then, he suddenly went on the run,” Diale said.
“He ran into the bushes. They chased him into the veld and he lay down in the grass. They actually ran past him as he lay in the bushes but on their way back, he was there,” Diale said.
“As soon as they brought him back here, the community wanted to question him but the police quickly took him away ... It’s possible that he could have been part of this. We don’t know why he was here and perhaps he was checking the coast,” said Diale.
Hlathi, however, told TimesLIVE that no one had been charged for the crime yet.
As Diale spoke to TimesLIVE, the women from the community started to fill the yard to express their condolences. Dressed in skirts with their heads covered and masks covering their mouths, they sang hymns outside the house.
“They can’t come in here. There’s no space and we need to practise social distancing,” Diale said, looking around at the small bedroom where a mattress had been placed on the floor, waiting for Keitumetse’s mother, Brenda, to sit down.
Keitumetse was Brenda's only child. She had been at work and left him at home alone when the incident happened.
When TimesLIVE arrived at the house, she was meeting police and also preparing to have her son’s remains transported back home to Groblersdal for his burial over the weekend.
Until earlier this year, Keitumetse had lived in Groblersdal. His mother had recently bought the house in the new developments of Klarinet, enrolled him at the Pine Ridge Combined School and brought him to live with her.
On Tuesday, his family had emptied his room and taken all his belongings back to his grandmother’s house where he would be buried. The door leading to the boy’s room had been left open, exposing a brown wardrobe that had been shifted out of place by the family as they had cleaned the scene.
He was found lying down with his blood spilling all over the floor. Neighbours called his mother at around 3am. When she got here, it was already ‘amen’ with her child
“He was found lying down with his blood spilling all over the floor. Neighbours called his mother at around 3am. When she got here, it was already ‘amen’ with her child,” Diale said, meaning he had already died.
The killers had fired two shots. One had hit the ceiling in Keitumetse's bedroom. The other had gone through his neck.
Diale said the attackers had planned to take off with the television set, gas canister and gas stove, blankets, meat and sneakers.
The television set and sneakers were among the items that were not recovered. Everything else the robbers had dropped as they fled the scene.
“The mother is heartbroken. She is battling to even eat,” Diale said.
“All we know is that Klarinet is not a good place. It’s just not safe,” she said.
Neighbours were seemingly in agreement with her.
“You have no idea how many house robberies we have had here. Yes, Klarinet is quiet and neat but it’s one of the unsafest areas here,” said one neighbour.
“Here you don’t have high walls. You do it for your own safety but clearly, that is not even enough. It means a person needs a gun to protect their own family,” said Lucly Mvelase, another Klarinet resident.