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Disabled Soweto teen sjambokked & beaten to death after allegedly stealing a tap

Disabled Soweto teen sjambokked & beaten to death after allegedly stealing a tap

Dorah Kasibe found her son sitting on the grass only in his underwear, badly beaten and dying. It was here, next to a road in Mapetla in Soweto that the attackers had left Kutlwano, a 16-year-old special-needs teenager, to die.

But when Dorah got to her son he was still conscious and able to speak.

“I ask him, Kutlwano, who beat you like this? And he said he didn’t know them. He said he was walking down the street and they caught him.”

Later the story would emerge of what his attackers had done. It was claimed that Kutlwano had stolen a tap and community members decided they would discipline him.

He was allegedly tied to a tree, cold water thrown on him and his assailants took turns sjambokking him. It is also alleged that a car battery was used to shock him.

“Some of those people hitting him, they knew how he was,” said Kasibe.

Kutlwano was rushed to the hospital.

But the boy with the wide smile and love for singing died soon after getting there.

Three weeks after Kutlwano was killed, his mother stared at the three men accused of his killing. They appeared in the Protea Magistrate’s Court on Thursday for a bail hearing.

Police spokesperson Lieutenant Colonel Mavela Masondo said that four suspects between the ages of 30 and 40 were arrested on June 22, four days after Kutlwano was killed.

Three of them appeared in court.

While she doesn’t know them, their faces are familiar to her. They live in the community.

The court appearance had to be postponed to Monday because of load shedding.

“You know he was a workaholic, if he saw someone in the garden he would go over and help,” Dorah told The Saturday Star on Friday about her son. He sang in a choir and with a brass band.

When he could, he would take things apart to try to figure out how they worked.

He did well at the special needs school he attended. Kutlwano was a happy child, his mother said.

“And he loved to talk,” she laughed.

But in the days after his killing there has been pressure on Dorah to drop the charges against the men. On the day of Kutlwano’s funeral, June 25, a man came to Dorah’s house that evening. He asked her to come outside and told her that she must give a price that they would pay.

“But I told him money won’t bring my son back.”

National Co-ordinator of Regional Development for Autism SA, Mary Moeketsi, who is herself the mother of a child with autism, said she was made aware of the horrible attack on a WhatsApp group for parents with autistic children.

“I am outraged. I am so angry. Children with special needs have rights too. People cannot just take the law into their own hands. They poured cold water on him and beat him to death,” she said.

Moeketsi said what’s even worse is that the attackers knew Kutlwano and were aware of his intellectual challenges.

“I would like to see these people receive the harshest sentences. We need to send a very strong message that someone who is different has the same rights as you and me.

“When we have awareness campaigns around mental illness, communities don’t attend. They just see people with special needs as mad. This child clearly didn’t intend to steal the tap or cause anyone any harm,” she said.

Autism SA said it’s time people start to understand the complexities around mental problems and intellectual challenges.

Read: Anxiety has been hitting me hard lately – Nadia Nakai speaks out

Director of the Teddy Bear Clinic in Parktown, Shaheda Omar, shared Moeketsi’s outrage at the attack on Kutlwano.

“This young boy and his mother were both clients of ours at the Soweto branch. They were both receiving therapy. People don’t have understanding and empathy for children who are different. Mob violence is just unacceptable,” she said.

Omar added that the boy’s mother now lives in fear and everything needs to be done to support the family.

“She has already been pressured to withdraw the case and was asked to name her price. She is now being victimised again. This is murder. There’s just no other way to put it. Nobody pursued due diligence. How dare the community take the law into their own hands?” a frustrated Omar asked.

-The Saturday Star

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