Dutch charity worker found dead
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Reita van Vuljk’s dream of opening a centre for the youth of Nkangala in northern KZN may never be realised after the 66-year-old Dutch national was found dead in Ubombo on Friday.
Van Vuljk had been doing community upliftment work in Nkangala since 2005, and is said to have been on the verge of receiving government assistance in building the centre when she was killed.
“She was someone who had gone to that community and identified a need and wanted to assist the children and the youth of that community,” said department of social development spokeswoman Ncumisa Fandesi.
Van Vuljk had been missing since her Toyota Hilux was found overturned near Hluhluwe on Monday. On Wednesday investigations led police to a 23-year-old man who was allegedly driving the bakkie when it overturned. The man, who was arrested, gave police details of where to find Van Vuljk’s body.
A search led to the discovery of the body near a cliff in Ubombo, said police spokesman Colonel Jay Naicker.
Two more men have been arrested and all three are expected to appear in the Ubombo Magistrate’s Court tomorrow on charges of robbery, kidnapping and murder.
Fandesi said that Van Vuljk’s death was a tragic loss for the Nkangala community.
“We first became aware of her in 2005. She was working alone at the time assisting the community with various projects. But her goal was to open the child and youth care centre,” she said.
Fandesi said that Van Vuljk had been running a makeshift centre for some time.
“Her efforts started out very impromptu. She didn’t have an organisation as such but she formed a committee with community members in that area. We had been working with her to help her start the centre because there are some rules and regulations when it comes to things like that. She had not reached the stage where she was being funded yet, but she was working towards that. There were some matters that needed attention.”
Fandesi said that Van Vuljk was passionate about the community where she lived and worked.
KwaZulu-Natal MEC for Social Development Weziwe Thusi condemned the murder of Van Vuljk.
“It is very sad that she was killed in the very same community she tried to help,” Thusi said. - Sunday Tribune