The body of Leigh Matthews, believed to have been kidnapped almost two weeks ago, was found south of Johannesburg on Wednesday, police confirmed.
Johannesburg police Superintendent Chris Wilken told Sapa she was found in open veld around 3.30pm.
He said police would issue a full statement on the matter "as soon as the investigation at the scene has been completed". Her body was found near the Walkerville Manor area, Wilken said. A municipal worker reportedly came across her body while cutting grass in the vicinity of the Grasmere Toll Plaza - a spot notorious for criminal attacks.
Forensic experts told SABC television news that Leigh had been dead for about five days.
Her father Rob Matthews told e-tv news: "We are devastated by the news. All we want to do now is to go back together with my wife and other daughter, and get our lives back together."
He added: "Clearly we are not holding up." He was speaking after being told that police had found his daughter's body. He said he had no further details.
Gauteng provincial police commissioner Perumal Naidoo extended his deepest sympathy.
"We will continue to utilise all our expertise and resources to ensure that the culprits responsible for this hideous crime are brought to book," he said.
Twenty-one-year-old Leigh was held for ransom after she disappeared from outside Bond University in Sandton on the morning of July 9.
The last time her family heard from her was when her captors allowed her to speak to them from her cellphone that afternoon.
"She told me to follow the instructions not to involve the police and that she was not hurt," her father told journalists the next day.
He dropped off money as requested by her captors, but his child was not returned. Since then, a massive hunt for Leigh has been in progress throughout the country.
A reward was offered for information leading to her safe return, and a call centre was set up to deal with the "overwhelming" response from the public.
Matthews is an IT executive. He and his family live in Fourways.
He told reporters at the briefing he had no idea why his child had been targeted.
Leigh's 21st birthday party was planned for the day after she was kidnapped. - Sapa