Murder accused silent on toddler missing for 75 days

mages of missing Liyaqat Akeem Mentoor, 3, who was last seen in mid-March in Roodepoort.
Liyaqat Mentoor has been missing for 75 days and the man accused of his murder is still not talking.Onke Mashinini, the police allege, killed Liyaqat, 3, in his parent’s home in Roodepoort. The strength of their case lies in blood found in the bathtub, which detectives say is enough to prove that Liyaqat – or Lee, as he was known – was killed.

Family say police were able to confirm it was Lee’s blood from a DNA match.

But despite several police interviews over the past two and half months, Mashinini has not revealed what might have happened.

His story, according to police, is that he had taken Lee to his grandmother’s house. Outside the house two people claiming to be relatives bundled Lee into a car and drove off.

But his story, the police say, has not been consistent.

This week, Lee’s family hoped that Mashinini might finally reveal the truth about the child’s disappearance when he reappeared in the Roodepoort Magistrate’s Court. He has been in jail since March 17, following his arrest for child neglect.

Mashinini was denied bail on Wednesday, much to the delight of family and community members.

“On the strength of the evidence, he was refused bail,” says Roodepoort police station Brigadier Sam Manala. “He is still in custody and we will not stop looking until we find the body.”

Manala is confident they will be able to convict Mashinini on forensic evidence, even with no body.

Lee’s mother Kaylah reported the boy missing on March 17. She had moved in with Mashinini weeks earlier. At the time she had found work and asked Mashinini to babysit Lee.

Since Lee was reported missing on March 17, there have been searches organised by police and community.

Police got Mashinini’s cellphone records and, using data pinged off cellphone towers, plotted his alleged movements in the time it is believed Lee disappeared. These areas were extensively searched, but again nothing was found.

During his latest court appearance, Lee’s grandmother Shanaaz Botha spoke to Mashinini, hoping he would talk about Lee.

“He didn’t make eye contact, he said he was sorry for what he put the family through and started crying,” says Estelle Delport, Lee’s aunt.

Mashinini is scheduled to appear in court again on Monday.

But while Mashinini is not talking, Lee’s family are hoping the toddler will be found and are trying to create awareness.

According to Delport, provincial SAPS officers told the family they would be looking at the case afresh to see if there were other ways of finding Lee.

Today, family and community members are planning a march in Eldorado Park to coincide with Child Protection Week and to highlight recent crimes against children. A memorandum will be handed to the police.

“We are happy he didn’t get bail, but we just want Onke to speak and say what happened,” says Delport.

Saturday Star

Photo Credit- iol

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