- The basketball coach accused of the kidnap, rape and murder of Hout Bay boy Sibusiso Dakuse joined the frantic search for him, the court heard on Wednesday.
- During Marvin Minnaar’s trial in the Western Cape High Court he was described as a valued volunteer coach who helped with kit and communications.
- The founding chairperson of the basketball club testified that they were shocked when the police came to question them about the boy’s disappearance.
Hout Bay basketball coach Marvin Minnaar joined the search for 12-year-old Sibusiso Dakuse, the boy he is now accused of abducting, raping and murdering, the Western Cape High Court heard on Tuesday.
Minnaar has pleaded not guilty to all the charges against him and has opted to remain silent throughout the trial.
On Tuesday, Bryn Mbulawa, the founding chairperson of the Hout Bay Snipers basketball team, was sworn in to testify about the humble beginnings of the club, which started off as a couple of friends “bouncing a ball around” in a parking lot, and ended up becoming a highly competitive club made up of enthusiastic boys and girls fighting it out with teams across Cape Town.
While they knocked a few balls around in the early days, they inevitably drew a crowd, and Minnaar, still in school, was among those fascinated by the game.
He gradually went from a keen spectator to learning the rules of the game, then volunteering for the club.
Mbulawa traced the club’s beginnings to 2015 and proudly described the gradual buildup of designing a kit, getting their first sponsorship from the local hardware store, to buy vests in the colours of royal blue, orange and white. They came up with their name, and the Snipers caught the eye of African Grassroots Basketball (AGB).
The AGB organised a gala day with a professional coach and player, and Minnaar was a keen assistant, dispensing the food and drinks. He helped with club communications to parents, and was in charge of getting the kit back.
This was not always an easy job as the teenagers often lost their kit, or it was stolen off the washing line. In 2020, the club eventually got a proper basketball court, built on the parking lot of the Hout Bay Sports Club opposite Imizamo Yethu, where the dream started.
The club eventually gave Minnaar a shot at coaching.
Mbulawa testified that on the night Sibusiso went missing – 26 February 2020 – there was chaos on the court. One of the 20 soccer clubs that uses the sports club, was using the basketball court and the basketball players were trying to run between the soccer players and he had to step in to sort things out.
That night he saw Minnaar arriving through the sports club’s gates late. He remembers Minnaar crossing the basketball courts and does not remember what Minnaar did afterwards.
Because they all volunteer their time, he does not like to scold the other coaches for coming late to practice, and he got on with coaching his age group.
He testified that besides the soccer and basketball teams, the club also hosts skateboarders clattering around with their flips and tricks so, with spectators, the place is usually abuzz with people.
Mbulawa told Judge Constance Nziweni that he usually walked the players in Imizamo Yethu home afterwards to make sure they all got home safely because some tended to go off in other directions instead of going straight home.
The next day, 27 February, the police arrived at his office, and he was alarmed to hear that a child who had gone missing the night before could be one of his basketball players, and that the police needed help in locating the child.
He knew all his players and their parents, and was sure he did not have a player called Sibusiso Dakuse. Neither the police nor Sibusiso’s grandmother had a picture of him at that early stage in the search.
The police left his office, but arrived again at the club that night to question the other coaches.
This time they had obtained a picture of Sibusiso, and he could confirm that Sibusiso was not one of the Snipers.
Over the evening air, they heard a megaphone calling out Sibusiso’s name in Imizamo Yethu. It was windy, so they abandoned the practise and went to help look for him.
Mbulawa said the whole of Hout Bay was extremely concerned about the boy and anybody who could help was out searching for him.
By then, Sibusiso’s photograph was posted on the Hout Bay Organised Facebook group and the Hout Bay Forum.
The basketball teams and coaches made their way up the steep hill in Imizamo Yethu to join the search led by the neighbourhood watch.
Mbulawa said everyone was walking around asking: “Where is the child?”
Sibusiso’s family were standing outside their house in a vigil of hope. His frantic father, a taxi driver, was looking everywhere for his son.
Sibusiso’s father has been in court every day, looking exhausted.
The groups split up to cover more ground, and Mbulawa and Minnaar walked with one of the groups searching for the little boy.
The basketball coaches eventually went home, and, said Mbulawa. That was the last time he saw Minnaar.
He said he heard that Minnaar was the last to be seen with the child, and when asked about it, Minnaar had said that he walked in the direction of a pharmacy with him, and they parted ways near the Hout Bay police station.
The next day the news came through on the basketball WhatsApp group that Sibusiso had been found.
“And that he had been found dead,” Mbulawa said.
Sibusiso’s body was found in reeds off Manchester Road on the morning of 28 February. He was raped and then strangled to death.
Minnaar is understood to have been captured on CCTV walking with him on the night of 26 February.
Earlier on Wednesday, prosecutor Nadia Ajam revealed that they had obtained more CCTV footage from a security company which had given them stills of images of interest that they found as they went through old footage.
This footage shows a different child walking with a different adult. This child is alive and well, but she said the relevance of this discovery would be revealed later in the trial.
She implored Nziweni to seal the photographs containing the picture of the unidentified child and adult. She told the judge it would be in the best interests of the child, and they do not want to harm the case by identifying the adult who they have not located yet.
Reluctant to seal the entire file of still photographs from publication, Nziweni said they would proceed with caution with the pictures and deal with each one as it becomes relevant during the trial.
The trial proceeds on Wednesday, with Minnaar’s lawyer set to cross-examine Mbulawa.