Graceland Education Centre did little to help the distressed family of a Grade 9 learner who was found raped and killed two days after her school was told of her disappearance.
Gauteng Education MEC Panyaza Lesufi, who on Monday threatened to fire members of the school management, said he knew about the death of Laticia Jansen before the school. He has since demanded answers from the school.
Laticia was found raped and stabbed to death on Friday after she did not return home from the school in Germiston, Ekurhuleni, on Wednesday.
Her grandmother, Lynette Jansen, said she told the school on Thursday her granddaughter had not returned home. She claimed the school told her “she had probably done a sleepover at a friend’s place”.
Jansen spoke to The Star on Monday, prior to Lesufi’s visit to Laticia’s school and family
Jansen sobbed while leaning on her daughter’s shoulder, who also couldn’t hold back her tears.
“I couldn’t sleep. In the morning I rushed to the school to tell them that my granddaughter didn’t come home from school but they told me that she probably did a sleepover at a friend’s place.
“I went to the Elsburg police station. They (police) just took down my statement but never came with me to search for her. Instead, they sent me away and told me to come back after 24 hours with her picture,” she said.
Laticia Jansen was found raped, killed and her body burnt.
Laticia went missing while walking to school with other learners, including her two brothers after their school bus left them behind in the morning.
They walked a distance of about 10km, passing a shrub wetland with a small thoroughfare that was also covered by tall trees and grass before crossing under a dark bridge. But Laticia didn’t make it to the other side of the bridge.
Two days later, she was found on the grass with her pants down. She had been raped, stabbed and dragged through the grass, her family claimed. They said her face looked like she had been beaten and burnt.
Community development worker Mmakwena Ramushu, who notified the MEC about the incident last week, said: “The children walked as a group. They said Laticia decided to take a rest just before the bridge because her school bag was heavy. They didn’t notice that she wasn’t following them.
“When they got to the school, the gate was closed and they had to walk back home. They passed right here (at the scene) but did not notice anything.
“Laticia was turning 15 on Saturday and her family went to the scene to place flowers, a cross and lit up candles in celebration of her life,” said Ramushu.
Lesufi has demanded answers from the school for not following up after Laticia didn’t show up at school for two days.
Speaking outside the family’s house the MEC said: “No one at the school could give me answers.
“I am the one who told them about the incident, instead of me getting a report from them,” he added.
He gave the school until 2 pm on Monday to submit a report about the circumstances around Laticia’s disappearance and warned that “heads would roll” should he not get an explanation.
“There would be dark consequences. A life has been lost and there is no explanation,” Lesufi said.
However, later on Monday, Gauteng Education Department spokesperson Steve Mabona said the contents of the report would be made public on Tuesday due to the school being “administratively hamstrung”.
The trauma of finding the lifeless body of her granddaughter still haunts Jansen. She said that her son and grandson had to use dogs to track Laticia after being turned away from the police station.
The dogs led them to the shrub wetland where they found Laticia.
They noticed that her neck was “bent down, her bones had been broken”, as they tried to lift her.
“They called me and at that time I was busy putting up posters on street poles,” said Laticia’s sobbing grandmother.
“We called the police and they rushed to the scene.”
Police are investigating a case of murder. No arrests have been made yet on the case.
Spokesperson Brigadier Mathapelo Peters said: “Police are appealing to anyone with information that could lead to the arrest of the suspect(s) to contact the police.”