The body of Jolandre Tolli, a Grade 11 pupil at Weslaan High School in Douglas, was discovered by two elderly women who were collecting wood at around 7am on Thursday morning.
Tolli’s throat had been slit and she was apparently found “covered in blood”.
Her body was found just over a 100 metres from where she lived with her mother, Lisa Tolli.
Lisa told the DFA on Thursday that it felt like a double tragedy that she now has to deal with as her sister was also murdered in Breipaal earlier this year.
She said that she had last seen her daughter on the morning of June 1, when she spoke to the teenager, who was lying in bed.
“By Sunday evening I had become worried about Jolandre, as she was not someone to stay out for long. When she had still not returned, we reported her missing early Monday morning but the police only opened a docket after 11pm.”
A devastated Lisa described her daughter as a true “people’s person” who was dedicated to her schoolwork.
Lisa added that she had never given up hope that her daughter would return safely. This while community members launched a massive search mission on Monday.
The remnants of a bonfire in front of Tolli’s house, where community members involved in the search gathered during the night, were still visible yesterday.
“Community members came together and searched day and night, until some were simply too tired to carry on,” said one member of the Douglas Community Watch, Justice Klaaste.
He added that community members had on Wednesday extensively searched the veld where Tolli’s body was found (yesterday morning), but that the body “was definitely not there then”.
“We believe she was killed somewhere else and her body was dumped here in the veld on Thursday morning,” he said.
Klaaste said further that they had spoken to a friend of Tolli, who indicated that she was last seen with a man from Douglas, who had said that he would take her home from a tavern.
“We informed police about this and even visited the house where this man lived, but a female occupant was reluctant to let us in. While in the house we saw that one door was locked and she would not open it,” Klaaste said
He added that the police did not arrest the man (allegedly last seen with Tolli) but rather “took him in for questioning” before releasing him again as they “did not have any case against him”.
“If only we had some help or co-operation from the police, Tolli could have been found much sooner - and maybe she would still be alive,” Klaaste stated.
He said that he was called yesterday morning by two women who found the body while they were collecting wood.
“I heard the chilling screams of the women and went closer. I saw the body, the clothes she was wearing, a bloodied shirt and then her braids - then I knew it was Jolandre,” Klaaste said, adding that he had then phoned the police who arrived on the scene.
Another member of the Douglas Community Watch, Regina Power, also slammed the local police for “not assisting the community with the search” or “following up on leads” given to them.
“A scarf that Tolli was wearing at the time of her disappearance was found in the yard of her home on Tuesday but police did not send dogs to follow the scent,” Power said.
Power also found it “disturbing” that police never arrested the man the community suspected of being involved in the girl’s disappearance, until after the body had been discovered.
“It is like they were protecting him,” she said.
The man pointed out by community members was arrested by the police yesterday, shortly after the discovery of Tolli’s body.
The house where the man was arrested (just around the corner from where Tolli lived) was cordoned off with police barrier tape after the suspect was taken away.
Police spokesperson Lieutenant-Colonel Dimakatso Mooi confirmed that a 27-year-old man had been arrested in connection with the murder of Tolli.
Community members claimed that he had tried to commit suicide by hanging himself early yesterday morning and was found on the floor, comatose, when the police arrived to arrest him.
“The police request anyone who may have information about this incident to contact Sergeant Jacobus April on 082 301 9978 or the Crime Stop Line 08600 10111. All information received will be treated as strictly confidential,” Mooi said.
Meanwhile, the ANC in the Northern Cape on Thursday described Tolli’s murder as “a great setback to the work that is being done by the ANC-led government in ensuring that communities are safe and those who are vulnerable are protected”.
“The ANC has learnt with a great sense of sadness of the murder of 16-year-old Jolandre Tolli, who was found in a veld in Breipaal, Douglas this morning. The discovery of Yolandre’s body comes as a great setback to the work that is being done by the ANC-led government to ensure that we keep our communities safe and protect those who are vulnerable in our communities. The killing of a young life, especially during Child Protection Week, should by no means be tolerated.
“The ANC therefore calls on all law enforcement agencies to speedily ensure that those who have perpetrated this heinous act are apprehended. We strongly believe that through the assistance of community members we will be able to ensure that they are apprehended - we therefore call on the community to work together with the police.
“We send our most heartfelt and deepest condolences to the family and friends of Jolandre Tolli. The loss of her life has not only robbed her family and the community of a daughter, but has robbed the Province of a young life, so full of promise. We plead with the community to place the family in their prayers during this time,” ANC provincial secretary Deshi Ngxanga said on Thursday.