Nelisa Cele, a registered nurse and mother of a 13-year-old son, left her home in Gamalakhe last Wednesday to pick up her recently bought Isuzu bakkie from a dealer near Shelley Centre on the KZN south coast. She never returned home.
Cele’s mother, Babongile, said they had assumed she had stayed at her boyfriend’s home. Cele was six months pregnant with his child.
Speaking to The Mercury, a distraught Babongile said the family were inconsolable.
She said that on Friday her grandson attempted to call his mother on her cellphone but it went to voicemail.
A nurse, who worked with Cele at the Gamalakhe Community Health Centre (GHC), also tried to phone when Cele failed to arrive.
“That was when we started to panic,” she said. They spread the word in the neighbourhood to help search for Cele but had not approached the police as they were optimistic she would return home.
However, on Friday morning, a keen Johannesburg twitcher who had been following birds and taking photographs made a grim discovery. He had taken a photograph of what he thought was a bird, then realised it was a human body covered with a cloth.
He alerted the police immediately.
It is believed that Cele’s killer may have tried to throw her body off a cliff but it got stuck in tree branches.
“Our worst fears were realised when we identified her body. We just received the post-mortem results that said she died due to bleeding in her brain,” Babongile said.
Health MEC Dr Sibongiseni Dhlomo expressed his deepest condolences to Cele’s family. Cele had been a nurse at the centre since 2011.
“The murder of a health-care workers is always a sad day for us, because these are people who are tasked to save lives and bring healing to those who are ailing,” Dhlomo said.
He called on law enforcement authorities to do everything in their power to bring those responsible to book.
Police spokesperson Colonel Thembeka Mbhele said a case of murder was being investigated by Paddock SAPS.
According to Mbhele, Cele’s body was found with severe assault wounds.
“The motive for the killing and the suspects are still unknown. Investigations are still continuing,” she said.
The department will hold a memorial service for Cele at the Methodist Church next to Gamalakhe CHC on Thursday.
Cele will be buried on Saturday.