Family of slain five-year-old Ditebogo Junior Phalane inconsolable

Boitumelo Kobe-Phalane, the mother of the late five-year-old Ditebogo Junior Phalane, who was killed by car hijackers in Soshanguve, is inconsolable after losing her son just five days after giving birth to another child.

Ditebogo Junior was laid to rest at the Soshanguve Crossing cemetery on Friday, where scores of people came out to pay their last respects. Ditebogo’s killing has sent shockwaves around the country and further highlighted the crime scourge in the Tshwane township.
Police Minister Bheki Cele, Gauteng premier Panyaza Lesufi and Tshwane mayor Cilliers Brink were among high profile politicians who visited the family in the wake of the tragic killing this week.

Patriotic Alliance leader Gayton McKenzie has put down a R250 000 bounty for information leading to the arrest of the suspects. Cele told residents during a community imbizo that the police would get to the bottom of the rampant crime in Soshanguve.

A crestfallen Keneilwe Kobe, who is the slain boy’s aunt, said he had been bubbly and always curious about life and expressed a wish of becoming a lawyer one day.
“He had a good relationship with his father. They were very tight, and he loved his father to a point that every time he would hear his father arriving home from wherever he would run to him,” said Kobe.

On the night Ditebogo Junior was killed, Kobe said she heard her father on the phone speaking to her sister informing him that the child had been shot. She said she was in disbelief.

“At first, we did not know which of the three children was shot. When we got to the Phalane home I found my sister holding her newborn child and she explained that my nephew had been shot,” Kobe said.

“My sister said they were watching television that night and when [Ditebogo] Junior heard the sound of the car, he told his mother that his dad was home with a big smile.
“He rushed to put on his shoes, opened the burglar door, and took some buckets that his father had come home with to take into the house,” she said.

When the little boy came out again to go to his father, he found him with the two hijackers inside the yard, but the gate was not closed. The two hijackers demanded the keys to his two bakkies. Kobe explained that although Phalane obliged to the hijackers, one of them started shooting and one of the bullets struck the child.

“When [Ditebogo Junior] Phalane was shot, the hijackers were in shock and his father told them, ‘you have shot my child’. One of the hijackers asked his accomplice why he had fired the shot, and they gave Phalane one of the car keys telling him to take the child to hospital. My nephew passed away while his father was taking him to hospital,” she said.
Ditebogo Junior was the first-born of three children, with the second born being three and the last born 12 days old.

“My sister and her husband are not coping at all, I think they are just being strong for the sake of their other children. In front of people, my sister has tried to compose herself but she is not well at all.”

Gauteng provincial commissioner Lieutenant General Tommy Mthombeni announced on Thursday that two suspects had been arrested in connection with the boy’s murder.
Mthombeni said the suspects were arrested at different locations in Soshanguve and were found in possession of unlicensed firearms. He said one of the firearms has been linked to a car hijacking committed in 2023 in Akasia and that a vehicle found in possession of the suspects is believed to have been used during the shooting of the five-year-old boy.

A community member who did not want to be named because of fear of victimisation said they do not feel safe at all in Soshanguve and although they have community policing forum groups they are unable to curb the crime in the area.

“What is shocking is that these whistleblowers were able to pinpoint where the suspects could be located only because there was a reward for whoever had information about the hijackers.
“I strongly believe that people know the people that commit these crimes but opt to keep quiet and pretend like they know nothing.
“The police should also question the whistleblowers because clearly they know who is terrorising the community.”

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