A mother has appeared in court in South Africa accused of hacking off a man’s penis after he was suspected of raping and killing her five-year-old daughter.
Veronique Makwena, 23, is charged with attempted murder alongside sister-in-law Noxolo Maneli and family friend Siyabonga Pakade for attacking a man after the body her daughter Chantelle was found in a public toilet.
Lawyer Fundile Matoto, who agreed to represent the women without fee after the case drew national attention, does not deny the attack took place but said the charges should be reduced.
Her bloodied body was eventually discovered slumped over in a public toilet the following day by Makwena’s husband, and a police investigation launched.
A man in his early 20s who was known to the family was taken for DNA testing, but police said they could not arrest him until results came back.
Around a month later Makwena, her 25-year-old sister-in-law and 24-year-old family friend allegedly confronted the man, saying he was responsible for the girl’s death.
During the confrontation, the three women are accused of cutting off his penis.
The man was taken to hospital where he named Makwena, Maneli and Pakade as his attackers. He also underwent successful surgery to reattach his penis.
Makwena was arrested shortly afterwards and held in jail for two weeks until charity Enough is Enough helped raise funds to pay her bail and buy her groceries.
The case has attracted national attention, including from NGO Project Inmate, who published photos of Makwena ahead of her trial.
Speaking to News24 outside court on Wednesday, Makwena said: ‘When [Chantelle] was found, my heart sank, I was crushed.
‘My [daughter] was gone. While we looked for her through the night, she had been lying in that cold toilet. I was broken, I still am.’
A judge adjourned the case until February next year pending further investigation.