Thando Hani

Photo of a teenage boy with dark brown skin and brown eyes, wearing a white hood and blue shirt.Name: Thando Hani.
Died: A few days after September 18, 2021.
Age at death: 15.
Cause of death: Homicide (Beaten by a vigilante mob).
Location: Cape Town, South Africa.

Thando was walking home from school when he met someone who was fleeing after having stolen a cell phone. Seeing Thando, the person shoved the cell phone into Thando’s hands and ran. The people chasing the thief saw Thando with the cell phone and allegedly began beating him. Neighbors say that some of the people who beat Thando to death knew very well he was autistic and probably innocent. Thando’s father arrived just in time to keep them from setting him on fire, but Thando was already severely injured. He died a few days later in the hospital.

Autistic boy laid to rest after mob attack
Teen killed after mob attack in Cape Town

Katlego Joja

Photo of Katli Joja, a girl with brown skin and black hair in small, neat braids. She is wearing a red hoodie printed with flowers and smiling at the camera.Name: Katlego “Katli” Joja.
Died: May 6, 2018.
Age at death: 10.
Cause of death: Unknown/Negligence.
Location: Mamelodi, Tshwane, South Africa.

Katlego’s principal said of her, “People who know her will tell you that she was all about love.” She had a 13-year-old brother who was very protective of her.

When Katli went missing and her mother couldn’t find her, she immediately called the police, explaining that her autistic daughter was missing and they needed help. But the police told her that a missing-persons case could not be opened until Katli had been missing for 24 hours–even though she was a 10-year-old non-speaking autistic girl in extreme danger.

Katli’s family repeatedly demanded help from the police, and they and their neighbors searched as well as they could without official assistance. They posted flyers and recruited searchers via social media. The police finally became involved when somebody called in a fake domestic violence report.

Katli was found in the river a few days after her disappearance. Her cause of death is unknown.

UPDATE: Autistic east girl’s death remains a mystery
#NotInMyName to march for justice after Katlego Joja’s death
Body of 10-year-old autistic girl found in a river
Community demands action in case of autistic Mamelodi girl
Emotional funeral for 10-year-old autistic girl
Justice for autistic Katli
Katlego Joja’s family shattered by her death
Police ill-equipped to deal with missing children with special needs
Police investigate cause of death of Mamelodi girl, Katlego Joja (10)
Religious leaders call for calm after death of Katlego Joja
Mamelodi police officers to be suspended for unethical conduct in Joja case
Family of autistic girl whose body was found in river mystified how she got out of yard

Nhlanhla Mnguni

Sepia-tone photo of a small, dark-skinned boy with a shaved head and a neutral expression, wearing a checked shirt.Name: Nhlanhla Mnguni.
Died: Missing May 10, 2014; found dead three weeks later.
Age at death: 4.
Cause of death: Homicide.
Location: Warrenton, South Africa.

Nhlanhla’s family says that the four short years he spent with them were “the most beautiful years of our lives because of Nhlanhla’s presence… his presence completed our lives.” Nhlanhla did not speak, but he loved music.

Nhlanhla went missing while the family was packing for a long car trip, and could not be found even though his hometown turned out to search for him.

Three weeks later, his body was found stuffed into a drain. An autopsy confirmed he had been murdered. Police are still investigating.

Town unites to find missing boy
Autistic boy was murdered – autopsy