THE family of Mandisa Mkhize was devastated when it emerged on Friday that her decomposing body had been found in the bush.

The 15-year-old from Mehlomnyama, near Port Shepstone on the KZN south coast, had been missing for a week when it was discovered she had possibly been raped and murdered.

Her uncle, Alson Mkhize (50), told sources, “Mandisa was only a kid. She didn’t deserve to be killed so brutally. We hope the police will not give the culprit bail and will give him a harsh sentence.”

He said on the day Mandisa’s body was found, police arrested a suspect who was bust with her phone, which had gone missing on the day she disappeared.

“They located the phone and they nabbed the person who was using it. When they questioned him, he told them he had bought it from another villager,” he said.

“When the police went to the seller, he took them to the scene where Mandisa’s body had been dumped and he was arrested.”

Alson said Mandisa went missing last Friday on her way back home from school.

“Another child from our family told us Mandisa was walking a few metres in front of her. She was very confused when she got home and Mandisa wasn’t there,” he said.

“She said she thought Mandisa had arrived home long before her because she was walking behind her. We then started searching for her but there was no trace of her until we received the sad news on Friday,” said the uncle.

KZN police spokeswoman Captain Nqobile Gwala said Mehlomnyama cops were investigating a murder case.

“A 22-year-old suspect was arrested. He is expected to appear in the Port Shepstone Magistrates Court today.”