Aunt Jessica Gouws with the story published in 2011.

A family’s quest to find their son who was kidnapped 16 years ago ended in tragedy when they learned he is dead.

Orathio Cheswill Gouws vanished in 1995 when he was just five years old.

Last year the Daily Voice published his biological family’s plea to get him back.

The boy’s aunt Jessica Gouws, 31, informed the newspaper the child had been living with Paulina Matawana on a Paarl farm.

She was asked to look after the child while his mother, Elize Gouws, worked in Claremont.

But Paulina vanished with the boy.

On the same day the story was published, Jessica got her first breakthrough.

“The boyfriend or husband called me and said Paulina was chased off the farm and left the child with him,” she says.

“He then took the child to Heideveld where Paulina lived with her sister.

“He gave us a description of where the sister lived but no address.”

Jessica and her family searched Heideveld and eventually found Paulina’s brother.

Sadly, he told them Orathio had died six years ago after being hit by a car in Bonteheuwel.

He also told them Paulina had at least two other aliases.

“He was 17 years old when he died and we never got to see him again,” Jessica says.

But Jessica was even more horrified when they learnt the boy was also adopted.

“Paulina gave the child to a couple who lives in Bonteheuwel,” she says.

“We found the woman who adopted him. She said Paulina told her the child’s mother had died.”

“The adopted mother told us the child kept saying he wanted to see his mother Lisa.”

Jessica says the trail eventually led them to Paulina, who is now homeless, and they took her straight to Mowbray Police Station.

“At the police station they told her she could be sent away for a very long time for ontvoering [kidnapping],” she says.

“But God dealt with her, she is a bergie now.” - Daily Voice