Cape Town - The mom of butchered teen Charmaine Mare on Tuesday visited the spot where her daughter’s charred torso was found so she can take her spirit home.
The teen’s murder made national headlines last year when her dismembered and burnt remains were found in a field near the Kraaifontein shooting range on January 11.
Her suspected killer Johannes de Jager is currently on trial at the Western Cape High Court for Charmaine and another teen’s murder.
Charmaine came to Cape Town from her Kriel hometown in Mpumalanga to stay with De Jager and his girlfriend at their Kraaifontein home, in order find work in January 2013.
The teen dropped out of school in Grade 9 as there was no money for tuition and was in town looking for work in order to support her struggling family.
The family of four survived on Charmaine’s mother Tina Mare’s pension and her 78-year-old father Julie Mare’s paltry earnings as a car guard at a shopping centre.
Now, just a week after the anniversary of the teen’s brutal murder, family and friends gathered in Kraaifontein to lay flowers at the site where Charmaine’s torso was found.
Tina Mare, accompanied by family friend Hantie Venter and Charmaine’s friend Nikita Small, had arrived in Cape Town on Sunday ahead of De Jager’s court appearance on Monday.
At the site, the three grieving women lay bunches of flowers against a vibracrete wall, metres from where Charmaine’s remains were found.
“I’m here to fetch you Charmaine, we can go home and you can finally rest in peace,” said her tearful mother.
“I wanted to come here, to the place where her remains were dumped and fetch her spirit.
“I could feel that even though we had buried her, her spirit was still trapped here and this way I can take her home with me.”
Mare says in the last few conversations with her daughter, Charmaine begged to come home.
“She pleaded with me to send money so that she can buy a bus ticket back home,” she revealed.
“But I’m a pensioner and my husband and I both did not have money.
“And that broke my heart, knowing she was so far away, alone and scared and she needed me but I could not be there.
“The last time I spoke to her, we were talking on BBM using another one of her friend’s phones.
“She said he (De Jager) was denying her food and water and would only provide them in exchange for sex.
“I told her to move a cupboard in front of her door so that he could not come in.”
Hantie, who has known the family since they came to live with her when Charmaine was just 10 years old, says she regarded the teen as her own daughter.
“I tried to stop Charmaine from coming here, pleaded with her even, but she was determined to help her parents financially and make life easier for them,” says Hantie.
“Charmaine wanted to be an artist, she was good at it, made beautiful sketches.
“And while she was here, she sent me sketches of teary-eyed children. And that was Charmaine, she always expressed herself in her art, she was clearly scared.
“Last week Tuesday, the anniversary of her death was very sad. Although it’s been a year, it still has not sunk in that she is gone.
“It’s almost like she is on holiday and will come back soon.”
Mare says in the long run she may end up forgiving her only daughter’s suspected killer.
“Maybe I will forgive him but I will never forget what he took from me,” she added.
“For years I struggled to fall pregnant and one day I just fell to my knees and prayed to God to give me just two children to call me mama.
“And at the age of 34, I conceived and just 11 months after having my son (Jean), I had Charmaine.
“They were very close, Jean taught Charmaine how to fight and defend herself and many times Jean has come back to me crying that Charmaine hit him or gave him blue eyes.
“But with Charmaine gone, my son has gone down a scary path, he’s doing drugs now.
“He smokes so much sometimes that blood comes out of his nose and I’m scared he will overdose and I will lose him too.”
Friends says Charmaine was a quiet, shy person who respected her elders.
“She was playful and loved playing pranks on us, some days I would wake up covered in baby powder and she would have written funny things all over me,” said Nikita.
Nikita, who testified at the trial on Monday, has Charmaine’s name tattooed on her body, a tattoo she says the slain teen designed for her before she died.