WHAT started off as a joyful sports trip with schoolmates on Thursday turned to tragedy when her family was called to identify her body in the nearby bush on Friday.

Mbalenhle Magcaba (18) from KwaXimba Village outside Durban was allegedly raped before being strangled to death.

Her grieving father, Philemon Magcaba (51), told Daily Sun he was devastated by his daughter’s brutal murder.

“My daughter was a happy soul and a respectful child. I am struggling to imagine why she was killed in such a manner.”

He said Mbalenhle loved going on school trips and as a parent he always allowed her to go as he saw no harm in letting her have fun with her schoolmates.

“If I’d known that I was going to lose her in this manner I would never have let her go on the trip.”

He said when Mbalenhle didn’t come home on Thursday night, they thought she had slept over at a relative’s house which was close to the school.

“But when I got a phone call from the police early in the morning on Friday, I realised I was wrong.

“I rushed to the scene and found my daughter lying motionless in the bush with her underwear nowhere to be found.”

He said he wants the police to make an arrest quickly before more girls are lost.

“My daughter is the fourth girl to be killed in this way in less than six months.”

He said he believes the suspect who is raping and murdering young girls in the area is the person who killed his daughter.

“He deserves to be locked up for a very long time.

“If police don’t nab this person soon, we are going to lose more girls in this area. Something must be done.”

KZN police spokeswoman Captain Nqobile Gwala confirmed the incident.

“No one has been arrested at this stage,” said Gwala.