Shayleen Van Zanten, left, a pupil at Hoerskool Eldoraigne, was murdered in KwaZulu-Natal while on holiday.
Shayleen Van Zanten, left, a pupil at Hoerskool Eldoraigne, was murdered in KwaZulu-Natal while on holiday.

Shayleen van Zanten was her father’s reason for living.

That’s how family have described the close relationship between Shayleen and her father Arie following the senseless killing of the teen at the Trafalgar Beach holiday town on the South Coast this week.

On Tuesday, Shayleen and her father arrived from Centurion to join other family members in the small resort town for a Christmas break.

According to police, 15-year-old Shayleen and a friend, who has not been identified, had left the beach house in Falke Land Road where the family were staying when tragedy struck at about 6pm on Wednesday evening.

Port Shepstone SAPS spokesperson, Lieutenant-Colonel Zandra Wiid said on Friday the two girls saw a man approaching.

“They decided to turn around and return to the house.

“As they neared the gate leading to the house, the man came up behind them and asked for the cellphone in broken English,” said Wiid.

It is believed Shayleen refused to hand over her phone and fought the attacker.

She was stabbed repeatedly in the chest, groin and arm.

She was rushed to hospital but later died of her injuries.

On Friday Shayleen’s aunt, Thea Coetser, speaking on behalf of the family, said they were devastated by what had happened.

“My brother Arie was a single parent and he and Shaleen were very close.

“She was the one person he lived for.

“We are not coping well at all. If he wanted to take the cellphone, why didn’t he just take it,” said Coetser.

She described Shayleen, a Grade 9 pupil at Eldoraigne High School in Centurion, as a “very strong and independent person”.

“She was a top learner and involved with many activities at school.

“She was always reliable and respectful, but most of all she always had a smile,” said Coetser.

Shayleen was a keen ice-hockey player and her coach, Trudie Coetzee from the Forest Knights Ice Hockey Club said: “We were all so shocked to hear about this, It feels unreal. Shalyeen was such a vibrant girl and really enjoyed her sport.”

The Facebook page for the club read: “Our deepest sympathy goes out to her parents, family and friends. Shay, you will be missed.”

The Gauteng Hockey Association also extended its condolences to the family.

“We mourn the tragic death of Shayleen van Zanten, a young player of Forrest Knights Ice Hockey Club. Our thoughts and prayers are with her family in this difficult time,” read the message from the association.

The popular teen also had a stream of posts from her friends, with Mikyla Lewis saying: “A few hours ago we were chatting and now you are with Jesus.

“I wish I could have protected you against the person who murdered you - you were so young; I’m already missing you so much”

Shayleen’s school’s Facebook message said: “It is with great sorrow that we learned about the tragic incident during which Shayleen van Zanten, a Grade 9 pupil at our school, died.

“Our sympathy goes out to her parents and family.”

Describing her as a “beautiful young lady”, the school said: “She always made a positive contribution wherever she found herself, in her own quiet way.”

SAPS Major Thulani Zwane confirmed on Friday night that a case of murder has been opened at Margate police station, but that no arrests had been made.

Pretoria News Weekend