The story read like a best-selling thriller. For 13 years, the family of missing 37-year-old Tandiwe Betty Ketani had no idea whether she was dead or alive. They spent those years searching for her, but were not able to find any answers.
Two months ago, during renovations to a home in Kenilworth, Johannesburg, a bundle of letters was uncovered under an old brown carpet.
They told the tale of five men who went on a spree of violent abductions and at least one murder – that of Tandiwe Ketani.
The letters were given to police and, within weeks, investigators traced the old dockets, made their arrests, dug up the spot where the men had buried her and brought the suspects to point out the crime scene.
All five men are in custody and due to apply for bail at the Johannesburg Magistrate’s Court today.
Ketani’s family, of the Eastern Cape, say they are happy about the arrests, but are battling, even after all this time, to come to terms with her death.
It is stories like this that kindle hope for families who are living through the anguish of missing loved ones.
It stirs memories of other missing people, those for whom no answer has yet been found. Perhaps the best known of them are the girls abducted by paedophile Gert van Rooyen and his mistress, Joey Haarhoff. When Van Rooyen killed Haarhoff and then himself, answers were lost.
Tracey-Lee Scott-Crossley, 13, Fiona Harvey, 11, Joan Horn, 13, Anne-Marie Wapenaar, 12, Odette Boucher, 12, and Yolanda Wessels, 12, disappeared between August 1 1988 and November 2 1998.
The recent letter discovery, describing Ketani’s end, shows that the truth remains out there, and may pop up.
“Please do everything you can to avenge me,” the confession letter concluded. Now, at last, it appears that vengeance in the form of justice may be delivered to Tandiwe Ketani and her family.