December 31, 2009
Soshanguve, Pretoria, Gauteng, South Africa
10-year-old Masego Kgomo is kidnapped, mutilated, and killed

Kgomo was last seen on New Year’s Eve after informing her mother she was going to play with friends nearby. When she did not return home, a search was launched by family, friends, and members of the community. One of those assisting in the search was Brian Mangwale, who pointed police toward an area of thick brush near a train station eight days after Kgomo’s disappearance. There, the decomposing, half-naked, and mutilated remains of Kgomo were found.

Masego Kgomo
via Independent Online

Mangwale quickly became a suspect after it was reported Kgomo was seen in his presence on the day she disappeared. He was questioned and, according to a magistrate and a police officer, confessed to being at least present during the killing and dismembering Kgomo. He was then arrested and charged with her murder.

Another man by the name of Albert “Nono” Mathebula was arrested in connection with Kgomo’s murder but was released; he later testified against Mangwale in court as a witness. According to Mathebula, he had been smoking dagga (cannabis) with friends in a car when they saw Mangwale arrive. Accompanying Mangwale was a man named Jan, a woman, and a child. The group went inside a house and Mathebula followed, though his friends remained in the car. Mathebula was then given a drink which was apparently had been drugged as it “made him feel dizzy, out of control and hear voices in his head,” according to Independent Online.

Mathebula further testified about the events of Kgomo’s murder: “On entering, we found initiates. They were dressed in sangoma [South African traditional healers] clothing. … The lady came in with a cloth. The child was not crying. It appeared she was also made to eat or drink something. When Jan cut her open, she did not scream. … I did not see the other parts. I only saw the internal organs. When she was cut open I looked so I could see what it is inside a woman’s body. Jan continued to cut open the child. When they were removing organs I vomited. … My friends asked me what happened with the child. I did not tell them. I was afraid.”

When Jan cut her open, she did not scream.

Albert “Nono” Mathebula

The magistrate and police officer to whom Mangwale had confessed also testified at his trial. According to the officer’s testimony, Mangwale had “appeared to have been possessed by the spirits of ancestors” as he pointed out the location of Kgomo’s body. Mangwale then admitted to the officer he had killed not only Kgomo but another girl as well, with both girls killed to sell their organs for the purpose of making muti, or traditional medicine. The officer testified Mangwale detailed how the other girl was lured into a car and taken to a river where Jan Maleka removed her tongue, both breasts, and her uterus. He was paid R4 500 (approximately US$300) by the sangoma for this girl’s organs, and R3 000 (approximately US$200) for Kgomo’s.

The magistrate testified Mangwale had told her that he and a group of friends were with Kgomo when he left to buy a cooldrink (a soda or soft drink). When he returned, he found his three friends had raped and killed Kgomo. Mangwale stated he did not report the incident to police because he knew of a woman “who wanted a girl” and removed Kgomo’s uterus and breasts which he sold to a healer for R3 000.

At trial, Mangwale claimed he had been tortured into making false confessions, and noted he could not have committed the murder of the unidentified girl as he had been in jail at the time the killing occurred. Mangwale also noted the confessions he had made to the officer and magistrate contained conflicting information.

Brian Mangwale at trial
photo by Thobile Mathonsi, via Independent Online

Mangwale was convicted of Kgomo’s kidnapping and murder, receiving 6 years for the abduction and a life sentence for the killing. Judge Billy Motlhe, who presided over the trial, told Mangwale, “The crimes you have committed are serious (in) the extreme … you and your co-conspirators took away the life of an innocent girl. For this, you stood to gain financially. What the court finds disturbing and gruesome is that it would appear that she was mutilated while still alive. … What is also disturbing is that you assisted the family and members of the community to search for the child while you knew where she was and that she was dead. You played on the emotions of this family.”

What is also disturbing is that you assisted the family and members of the community to search for the child while you knew where she was and that she was dead.

Judge Billy Motlhe

In 2011, construction began on a memorial park in the area where Kgomo’s body was found.

In 2018, Mangwale appealed his conviction on the basis his confessions were allegedly coerced, again noting the multiple versions of his confession with conflicting information. The courts decided the separate versions each told the same story and only differed in regards to whether Mangwale had killed Kgomo himself or if he had been present at the time of her murder. The trial was deemed fair and Mangwale’s conviction and sentences were upheld.

De Lange, Ilse. “Muti killer of 10-year-old girl loses appeal.” July 2, 2018. Accessed: December 31, 2020.
IN THE HIGH COURT OF SOUTH AFRICA (GUATENG DIVISION, PRETORIA). Case Number: A744-16. 25 May 2018. In the matter between: BRIAN MANGWALE, Appellant, and THE STATE, Respondent (archived:
Venter, Zelda. “Lifeline for convict over muti death.” IOL. December 17, 2013. Accessed: December 31, 2020.
“Schoolgirl killer gets life sentence.” SA News. November 29, 2011. Accessed: December 31, 2020.
June news, Mphahlele. “Thugs beware – Minister.” Sowetan Life. November 28, 2011. Accessed: December 31, 2020.
Hlahla, Patrick. “Masego ‘mutilated while alive’.” IOL. November 28, 2011. Accessed: December 30, 2020.
“Memorial Park in honour of murdered child, Masego Kgomo.” South African Government. November 25, 2011. Accessed: December 31, 2020.
“‘When he cut her open, she did not scream’.” IOL. July 21, 2011. Accessed: December 30, 2020.
“Gory details of ritual killing emerge.” News24. May 12, 2011. Accessed: December 31, 2020.

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