Family of slain municipal intern says she was disciplined and not a wild party-goer

Grandmother of Luyanda Cele, Manazi Cele holding her graduation while she spoke of how well mannered her granddaughter was. Picture: Tumi Pakkies African News Agency (ANA)

Grandmother of Luyanda Cele, Manazi Cele holding her graduation while she spoke of how well mannered her granddaughter was. Picture: Tumi Pakkies African News Agency (ANA)

Published Mar 23, 2023


Durban — The family of Luyanda Cele, who worked as an intern at the eThekwini Municipality’s Occupational Health and Safety Unit, are still trying to figure out how their daughter ended up dead near the Metro Lodge as she did not like going out and had a routine.

Moreover, the family said they were scared for Cele’s sister, who is a student at the Durban University of Technology.

Cele’s mutilated body was found dumped in an alley in South Beach, Durban, at the weekend. Her lower lip and tongue had been sliced off.

Luyanda Cele.

Her aunt, Nombuso Cele, said they were alarmed on Friday when she was not home at her usual time.

“We last saw her on Sunday morning going to work. If she is late she usually comes home at 8.30pm because she leaves work and goes to a driving school as she had started driving lessons,” said Nombuso.

Even though Cele would come back at 8.30pm, she would call along the way to update the family on her whereabouts. She said at 9pm they started calling her, but her cellphone was off.

“On Saturday we called her phone and it rang, but then I told her sister to call her because she might be afraid to answer her phone thinking that I would shout at her for not sleeping at home as she has never done it.

I thought she would be scared because she has always told the family that she is not seeing anyone and her boyfriend was Jesus,” said Nombuso.

She said Cele’s phone was not answered and eventually it was switched off . On Sunday they decided to go to the police station to report her missing.

The family described Luyanda as someone who was “open with no secrets”.

If there was someone asking her out they would know because she would have told them that she was going out on a date.

“She was not interested in men,” said her aunt.

Nombuso said Luyanda drank occasionally but she was not the type of person to get drunk. She enjoyed going out to eat.

“I think this is why we are shocked at the gruesome way she was murdered because she was a disciplined girl who just loved going to church.”

She said they called the driving school she attended and were told Luyanda came rushing in and left some documents and told them she was going to come the following day at 8am because she could not do her lessons then.

Her grandmother, Manazi Cele, with whom she was living, described Luyanda as an obedient child.

“When she came back from work, she would always come to say, ‘granny I’m back’,” she said.

The body of Luyanda Cele, 24, an intern at eThekwini Municipality, was found in South Beach in Durban. Picture: MIssing person poster/Durban Metro Police Facebook Page.

Mayor Mxolisi Kaunda has conveyed his condolences to the family, Cele’s friends and colleagues.

“Luyanda Cele was young and had a bright future ahead of her. She has been prevented from reaching her full potential as her life has been cut short.

“I extend my sincere condolences to those who knew and loved her. May her soul rest in peace,” he said.

Kaunda called on police to leave no stone unturned in the hunt for Cele’s killer.

KZN Social Development MEC Nonhlanhla Khoza pleaded with police to use all available resources to bring the perpetrator to book.

KZN police spokesperson Constable Thenjiswa Ngcobo said the motive for the murder was unknown but Point SAPS were investigating the murder.

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