Zodidi Dano, Siyabonga Kalipa and Ilse Fredericks
Cape Town - The father of the teenage girl who was found dead near Tokai Forest on Monday, has described the gut-wrenching phone call he received from his daughter, hours before her body was discovered by police.
Franziska Blöchliger, 16, was last seen jogging on a path alongside Tokai Forest where she and her mother had been waiting for her 11-year-old sister’s school bus, at around 3pm on Monday.
Her body was found by police and Kirstenhof Crime Watch in Dennedal Road just hours after she had been reported missing. She was robbed of her iPhone and her mother’s red tracking watch. It is alleged the stolen cellphone was last tracked to an area in Westlake. However, police could not confirm this.
Her mother, Shireen Blöchliger, said: “She decided to go on a jog, but did not want to take the dog with her, saying it would slow her down. We had arranged to meet back at the spot in 25 minutes.”
The teen was killed about 150 metres from where Blöchliger had been waiting.
At around 3.30pm, a panicking Blöchliger called her husband, Florian, informing him Franziska had not made it to the “meeting spot”.
“I thought she was taking a bit longer,” Blöchliger wept.
Upon Florian’s arrival, the couple and their 11-year-old daughter carried out a 30-minute search around the forest.
Florian said during the search he received a call from her cellphone.
“On the call she was quiet, but in the background you could hear children crying and screaming – I knew it wasn’t her cry, but wondered where she could be,” he said.
At around 4pm the family reported her missing and the search for the teen had intensified by police, neighbourhood watches and a helicopter.
According to police she had been strangled, but an autopsy, due to be completed on Wednesday, will determine the cause of death.
The distraught mother said when the body was found and they had seen an ambulance nearby, she thought her “baby” was still alive.
“We thought she was alive, but a little bit hurt or something, we didn’t think she was gone,” she sobbed.
The family did not see Franziska’s body, but the news was delivered to them by a trauma counsellor.
“She was the most unbelievable daughter, she didn’t do drugs, didn’t party. She loved her sports and surfing.”
The teen had dual citizenship and was due to go on a three-month school exchange programme to Switzerland, the country her father’s from.
At the Blöchliger home, family members were still in disbelief.
The family had turned one of the upstairs rooms into a shrine where they had lit a candle and placed many of the teenager’s baby photos next to it.
Florian said the family was meeting with a private investigator to determine how much reward they would be offering for information leading to a successful arrest and conviction.
“We want him to rot in jail. We appeal to the public to help find this person. He does not deserve to be in society. If he could do what he did to our daughter, imagine what he can do to someone else’s mother, sister and daughter.”
A sombre mood fell over the lower section of Tokai Forest on Tuesday night as thousands of people participated in a silent vigil for Franziska.
Around 3 000 people silently walked down the paths in the forest. Some came bearing flowers and messages, and some came hand-in-hand with children, others with dogs.
The Blöchliger family were overwhelmed by emotion. Shireen was comforted by Florian, who was holding a cross to erect on the site where their daughter’s body was found.
At some point the family separated from the large group of walkers, taking a path of their own.
Brenda Beneke, of the Bergvliet Kirstenhof Meadowridge (BKM) Watch, said communities had come in numbers to show support for the grief-stricken family.
Beneke said: “We have never had anything like this before. The community is blown away by the horror.”
Wendy Smith, who was with her 17-year-old daughter Jenna Smith, said her heart ached for the family.
Smith said: “I walk my dogs daily here and never have I felt threatened, I always felt safe because this place always has people.” Jenna added: “I may not know Franziska nor her family, but this hit home.”
Police spokesman Lieutenant-Colonel Andrè Traut said there were no new developments on the matter.
Thomas Knemeyer, a parent and member of the board of trustees at the Constantia Waldorf School, said one of the parents had described the teenager as being “as innocent as a butterfly”.
“I thought that is a very good description of her,” he said.
Constantia ward councillor Penny East said:
“We are all shocked and for the loss of a young life and for the family that has to go through this. There’s a faction of the community that is responding with anger, which is understandable.”
East said the community was security-conscious and had low crime in the area as they had active neighbourhood watches and community police forums.
She said they have had three deaths in the past six years: the first was a shooting, the second a home invasion and the third Franziska.