August 2 will forever be embedded in the memory of 23-year-old mother Veronique Makwena.
On that day three months ago, her five-year-old daughter, Chantelle, went missing from their home in the Rocklands farm area, Port Elizabeth.
“I left her with my friend who had been staying with us, because she was not well – I was going to the shop with my elder sister,” said Makwena.
“We walked to the shops, which is some distance away, and when we got home my daughter wasn’t there and it was night already.”
Makwena said they looked everywhere for Chantelle but when it became dark, they had to stop.
“What boggled my mind was the fact that I could see Chantelle’s shoes lying on the floor. She never went outside without her shoes on.”
Her body was found a day after she disappeared, bloodied and slumped over a toilet seat close to their home.
On Wednesday, Makwena appeared in the Port Elizabeth Magistrate’s Court with her sister-in-law, Noxolo Maneli. The two women, together with family friend Siyabonga Pakade, have been charged with attempted murder.
They are accused of assaulting and cutting off the penis of the man they believe raped and killed Chantelle a month after her lifeless body was found by her father.
“When she was found, my heart sank, I was crushed. My pinkmeisie was gone. While we looked for her through the night, she had been lying in that cold toilet. I was broken, I still am.”
The three women were arrested in September after they confronted the alleged perpetrator who is known to them.
They were held in custody in September for two weeks.
Their plight received widespread attention and they were later released on bail through the assistance of people who had heard about their plight on different platforms.
Advocate Fundile Matoto offered to represent the three pro bono.
Matoto said he was concerned about the charges that have been levelled against them.
“In my opinion, this case is a matter of assault, at most, grievous bodily harm.”
He said he was prepared for the case and work toward either a dismissal of the charges or go to trial.
Matoto added he would follow up on the absence of the third accused, who is in custody for another case.
He also raised concerns about the failure of the police to make an arrest for Chantelle’s murder, despite DNA samples having been taken on the day her body was discovered.
The case has been postponed to February 6, 2020, for further investigation.
Police spokesperson Colonel Priscilla Naidu confirmed no arrests have been made for the rape and murder of Chantelle.
“We are still waiting for the DNA results,” she said.