She was only 15 years old. It was an open secret that she lived with her boyfriend from Lesotho even though the age of consent in South Africa is 17 years.
Many in the community of Lomanyaneng, near Mahikeng, chose to mind their own business. As a result, they went through Christmas with a cloud of shock and shame hanging over them.
Two days before Christmas, the nude body of the 15-year-old girl was found in the two-room house she unlawfully shared with a man.
As fate would have it, the underage girl had not been seen for a while when neighbours noticed a swarm of flies on the windows of her rented house.
Alarmed, because flies are seen as harbingers of disaster – heralds of death, neighbours called the police at about 10:00 on Thursday, 23 December 2021.
All the while the boyfriend was nowhere to be seen.
Police broke the padlock and gained access to the house.
“The deceased’s body, which was in a bad state of decomposition, was found lying naked on the mattress in one of the rooms,” said the police.
“The deceased was identified by her brother as Tshegofatso Agnes Matibako.”
“Tshegofatso’s boyfriend, who is the last person to be seen with her, is reportedly a Lesotho national and also a person of interest in this matter. His whereabouts and full identity are unknown at this stage.”
Police were requesting anyone who knows where the deceased’s boyfriend is to contact the investigating officer, Detective Warrant Officer Molatlhegi Lechoenyo on 082 455 6078.
Alternatively, persons with information can contact Crime Stop on 08600 10111. Anonymous tip-offs can also be communicated via My SAPS App.
Police said all information received will be “treated with strict confidentiality”.
Commenting on the tragedy on Tuesday, The South African National Civic Organisation (SANCO) in the North West condemned the “chilling murder”.
SANCO Chairperson Paul Sebegoe said: “We wish to condemn in the strongest terms possible the sugar-daddy syndrome as well as any form of child grooming.
“There is no place in our society for perpetrators of gender-based violence who commit such atrocious and heinous crimes against children who are amongst the most vulnerable in our communities.”