The family of 12-year-old Sibusiso Dakuse have been left stunned after the man accused of his murder pleaded not guilty when his trial began earlier this week.
Marvin Minnaar entered the plea at the Cape High Court, despite being captured on CCTV footage as the last person to have walked with Sibusiso before he was found dead and despite the State having earlier claimed that he had made a full confession following his arrest in 2020.
The Sentinel Primary Grade 4 pupil was last seen by his grandmother at their home in Imizamo Yethu on February 26, 2020.
His family believed he was sleeping at his grandmother’s home. But later on, Sibusiso’s body was found among the reeds on the Kronendal Farm. His 23-year-old basketball coach, Mr Minnaar, was arrested on Saturday February 29 (“Hout Bay murder shocks community,” Sentinel News, March 6, 2020).
The family of the boy who loved music and basketball have never come to terms with his death and hope justice can help them move on.
Speaking on behalf of the family, Thabisa Dakuse, Sibusiso’s aunt, said his mother was not doing well and had broken down in court after hearing Mr Minnaar’s “not guilty” plea.
“It actually took a lot from her to go to court as she did not want to go, but we made her go and accompanied her as a family. But when they read out that news, she just broke down and could not contain it any longer,” Ms Dakuse said.
“His mother is not in a good state, and all we can do is support her as a family.”
Ms Dakuse added: “This is all taking us back and bringing back all that hurt, because even after confessing and being seen with Sibusiso, the accused is still trying to walk free.”
Mr Minnaar pleaded not guilty to charges of kidnapping, rape and murder.
On Tuesday November 22, pathologist Dr Bronwyn Inglis, took the stand and described the scene where she found Sibusiso’s naked body lying face down in some bushes.
She was told by a police officer that pieces of clothing and faeces-soiled toilet paper had been taken into evidence before she arrived.
“We found the completely naked body of a male juvenile face down on the stomach and the arms slightly under the stomach. The anus appeared dilated,” Dr Inglis said.
His body was taken to Salt River Mortuary where Dr Inglis performed an autopsy days later and determined the cause of death was strangulation.
In her post-mortem report, she listed more than 20 abrasions across Sibusiso’s body, which she explained could have been caused during a struggle on the dry reeds and twigs found at the scene.
Dr Inglis said it appeared Sibusiso had been strangled with a piece of thin material.
Meanwhile, the family remembered the happy moments with Sibusiso, describing him as a “loving, caring and honest child”.
“I still remember his smile, the jokes he made and how he always cared for everyone else. He was brilliant at school, but went in search for more,” Ms Dakuse said.
Sibusiso started taking a liking to basketball, visiting the courts in Hout Bay daily and sometimes just watching different teams take the court.
“He really wanted to play. For the first few weeks, he sat and watched and then he wanted to play and that is when he came into contact with Marvin, who was a basketball coach at the time,” she explained.
Mr Dakuse added: “We have to thank the Hout Bay community for their support over time as well. From day one, we have had support from people. Some even just dropping in to see how we are doing, others messaging and others even trying to find out how they can support.”
Eric Ntabazalila of the National Prosecuting Authority confirmed the trial was on the court roll. The trial continues at the Cape High Court.