Johannesburg - Her uniform was neatly laid out, ironed and ready for school. But matric pupil Nonhlanhla Dlamini was not in her bed. She wasn’t getting dressed. Her brother and sister hadn’t seen her.
From the moment her mother, Sana Pamkela, saw the uniform, she knew something was terribly wrong.
The resident of Hospital Hill, an informal settlement in Lenasia South, knew her daughter was a quiet child who didn’t venture out at night.
On Wednesday morning, after Nonhlanhla’s body was found about 150m from the house on an open piece of land zigzagged with foot paths, her family were left with a cryptic Whatsapp message on her phone that had come through at 11.50 on Tuesday night.
“I’m on my way,” it read.
The message came from someone their daughter had saved in her phone as Andile.
But who is this man Nonhlanhla would leave her bed in the middle of the night to meet?
None of her friends or family had ever heard of Andile.
Nonhlanhla’s usual schedule was to leave the house at 6am and return from school at 6pm. So, when her mother got up on Wednesday at 5.30am and found her daughter wasn’t getting ready, she was concerned.
“The girl is not the kind who sleeps out,” said Pamkela.
She was quiet and studious and didn’t share much with her mother.
By 7am, rumours had started to spread throughout the informal settlement that the body of a woman had been found.
Pamkela’s older daughter went up the empty piece of land to investigate.
A few minutes later, Pamkela heard screaming, so she followed her daughter. But before she could reach her, neighbours stopped her with a warning: yes, it is your child lying there.
Nonhlanhla was found badly beaten, the family said. She had a gunshot wound to her head.
At mid-morning on Wednesday, the mysterious Andile messaged again.
“Where are you?
“Are you going to school?”
Pamkela said the family were extremely confused by his message, wondering if it was a decoy to try to cover his tracks.
Police confirmed they were investigating the murder.
“(The victim) was found with open wounds on her upper body and it appears as though she was stabbed with a sharp object,” police spokesman Warrant Officer Kay Makhubela said.
He said the motive for the killing was unknown and no arrest had been made.