The sobs of slain Chantell Matthyssen’s mother echoed through the Western Cape High Court on Thursday, as she relived the memory of being shown an evidence bag containing her daughter’s necklace.
Carol Petersen told the court of her unrelenting search for her 21-year-old daughter, after she had been lured to Wellington in June 2018 under the auspices of getting a job, and never returned.
The job scam was allegedly arranged by triple murder and six-time rape-accused Johan Williams, who is on trial for Matthyssen’s murder, as well as that of Natalie Jonkers in 2012 and Maria Isaacs in 2018.
Williams is alleged to have lured Jonkers to Ongegund Farm by promising her assistance with obtaining a loan, while Isaacs was strangled or killed “in violence unknown to the State”.
Williams faces 20 criminal charges in total – three counts of murder, six counts of rape, six counts of kidnapping, one count of assault with intent to do grievous bodily harm, two counts of attempted rape, a count of failure to comply with a protection order, and housebreaking with intent to commit arson.
Testifying in Williams’s trial on Thursday, Petersen stoically recounted the day her daughter was reported missing, on June 23, 2018.
She said she became suspicious about her daughter’s whereabouts when Chantell did not contact her shortly after arriving in Wellington, where she was to meet Williams, a family acquaintance, who would pick her up.
Telling how she and her husband camped out in their vehicle from June 27 until July 2, 2018 in front of the Wellington SAPS, Petersen said she was determined to find her daughter.
“I stayed in Wellington because I believed my child was in Wellington.
My children have been brought up that when you say you are going to a specific place, that is the place that you’re going and nowhere else,” said Petersen.
She told the court how she had constant communication with Williams in an attempt to locate her daughter, but his contradictory messages and phone conversations worried her.
After she had reported her daughter missing and been in constant communication with police, which included visits to Williams’ wendy house, Petersen said it came to a head when the investigating officer showed her evidence bags with Matthyssen’s belongings.
Chantell’s clothes were found in Williams’s wendy house after sniffer dogs and police conducted a search.
“When I got to (investigating officer) Brown’s office, there was a sealed, see-through bag with clothes, and I immediately asked where he got my child’s clothes.
“When I saw the necklace, with white beads and which had her name on, I said ‘Hier’s groot fout. Sy haal dit nooit af nie.’ (Here’s big trouble, she never takes that off.)
“She got that necklace as a gift,” said Petersen.
She sobbed in the witness stand as she remembered the moments that lead up to the discovery of her daughter’s body, which was found at Abenrau Farm in Wellington on July 2, 2018.
During proceedings on Thursday, Williams indicated to his legal aid lawyer that he did not want the media present, citing how it could affect his children who had previously been victimised as a result of his detention.
However, Judge Rosheni Allie explained to Williams why the request was not applicable to open court proceedings.
The trial continues.