‘Life has been difficult’ – Mamelodi woman seeks justice for sister and niece strangled to death

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The brutal death of Itumeleng and her daughter have left the Makhura family incomplete and distraught.
The brutal death of Itumeleng and her daughter have left the Makhura family incomplete and distraught.

It was a Friday morning when she last spoke to her sister.

They were both heading out of their home in Nellmapius, Mamelodi.

Bonolo Makhura was going to work while her sister, Itumeleng Makhura was going to a shopping complex nearby after dropping their children off at creche.

The day, 18 March 2022, went by swiftly. But it wasn’t any normal day.

When Bonolo came back from work later that day, her sister was all dressed up in new clothes, about to head out to Joe Banana’s tavern in the area. With her birthday being in four days’ time, Itumeleng’s boyfriend, Kenneth Debeila, had given her money to spoil herself. Kenneth was also apologising for leaving a job that Itumeleng had secured for him.

“He knew that if he gives her money on Wednesday, then she would have forgiven him by Friday, and he’d be able to be with her on Friday.”

In the afternoon, Kenneth allegedly went to the Makhura household to look for Itumeleng. He then told his children, Tshepang (11) and Tshiamo (4), to visit him the following day because he had bought them goodies.

Later that night, the two lovebirds were seen together at the tavern, talking about what to buy for dinner. Kenneth wanted to have a hot dog and Itumeleng wanted something more filling, pap and chicken which they ended up buying.

And that was the last time she was seen.

The next time Bonolo saw her sister was two days later. She was found under Kenneth’s bed, face down with dried up blood on her face and her skin discoloured.

“Her body had changed, it had decomposed because it had a lot of colours. He had allegedly taken out the legs of the bed and the plastic beneath the bed base so that the body fits properly.”

She was allegedly strangled.

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Bonolo adds that she wishes she could have taken the Friday off to spend the day with her sister.

In the 11 hours before, they had made another gruesome discovery.

Around 8am on Sunday morning, Itumeleng’s daughter, Tshepang was found on her father’s bloody bed covered with a duvet.

“She was found by my mother and Julia (a family friend). Foam was coming out of Tshepang’s mouth. She was almost naked, with only her panties on.”

When she was found, Bonolo’s mother had gone to Kenneth’s home after trying to call Tshepang to come back home, only to be told that she was still asleep.

On her way there, the worried grandmother bumped into Kenneth who told her that he was taking the bags he was carrying to someone at the taxi rank. Without thinking much into it, she continued her journey.

When she arrived, Kenneth’s brother helped her gain access to the room, breaking down the locked door after peeking through the window.

Tshepang had taken her little brother, walked to her father’s home a few streets away and spent the Saturday there without their mother, who still hadn’t returned home.

“The time I went to fetch her [in the evening], she should’ve come back home with me but because she’s a child, she wanted to watch the Mr Bones movie that was playing on TV. It’s also her home though, so there was no way I could insist or force her to go with me. It wasn’t the first time she slept over there but it was the first time without her mother.”

The distraught aunt recalls that Itumeleng never wanted Tshepang to go to her father’s home without her and would get mad if she did. To date, she doesn’t know why it was such an issue.

In her recent Facebook posts, Bonolo shares a picture of Tshepang and the boyfriend.

“What pains me is that I could have saved your life the moment I got to your father’s home to fetch you, nana but you refused to come home with me. You spent the whole day not knowing that your mom was already dead and hidden underneath the bed and you spent the whole day with her [without] knowing!!!! You had hope that she might come back, maybe she went somewhere. And that night you slept in the same room with your mom dead,” she captions.

“Unfortunately, 19/03/2022 was your last day on earth and you were brutally KILLED,” the caption further reads.

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According to postmortem reports, Itumeleng and her daughter were both strangled to death.

The emotional Bonolo tells Drum that she has taken to social media recently because the past few days have been difficult as it’s around the time that it all happened last year. She has been having flashbacks of the devastating weekend.

It’s been a year since their deaths and the Makhura family still hasn’t found closure. Normalcy and warmth in their home have become foreign even when they are all together.

“Life has been difficult. My sister and I were always together, during the weekend we would sit outside with our drinks and listen to music. The fact that they’re no longer alive is felt every day. it’s difficult to wake up and look at Tshiamo, it pains a lot because he is still very young, and we still have to break the news to him eventually before he hears it from the streets.”

Bonolo's younger brother has even sought solace in drugs as he battles to process the grief.

As for Tshiamo who will grow up without both parents and a sister, Bonolo fears that he might just develop anger issues.

She says, however, that when he’s old enough, she’ll take him to see his father in prison. Hopefully, “he will tell him why he did what he did”.

After being on the run for months, Kenneth finally handed himself over to the police at Lebowakgomo police station in Polokwane on 13 June 2022 and has since been in police custody.

He's facing three charges of murder as well as rape and robbery with aggravating circumstances. 

On 7 March, investigations revealed in court that Kenneth is also facing charges related to the murder of a boy named Kgaugelo Magagulela who was 18 years old in 2012.

His trial is set to begin on 18 April at the Pretoria Magistrates Court.

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