Asheeqah Noordien’s family say they did not sell her to human traffickers
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The family of six-year-old Asheeqah Noordien of Manenberg who has been missing for 16 years, say they did not sell her to human traffickers to take care of a drug debt.
For the first time since Asheeqah disappeared, her mother and grandmother have opened up about the investigation.
Just over a year ago, the investigation took a new turn when DNA samples taken from Asheeqah’s mother, Naeemah Noordien, 44, did not match unclaimed bodies at Tygerberg Mortuary.
This week police also confirmed, the missing persons docket would be handed over to Nyanga Police’s Family Violence and Sexual Offences Unit.
Asheeqah disappeared in June 2005 while playing at a park in Scheldt Walk, Manenberg.
The family claim police treated them like suspects while the community believed they had trafficked the child to Nigerian nationals for unpaid drug debts.
Her grandmother Jacqueline Jansen, 63, had been imprisoned for drug-related charges and was in prison at the time of her disappearance.
Both Noordien and Jansen have turned their lives around since then
Jansen is a safety mother and has five children in her care.
“I am a safety mother, I want to give back to the community,” said Jansen.
Inside the maisonette stands a photograph of Asheeqah, made out of old newspaper clippings.
Rumours had also been circulating that Asheeqah who was in Grade 1 at Sonderend Primary School in Manenberg, had climbed into a vehicle with unknown men.
Jansen said police were focusing in the wrong direction because they suspected the family had a hand in Asheeqah’s disappearance.
“The police had too much focus on gossip and hearsay. It was even said in some newspapers that the Nigerians took my granddaughter.
“At the time when she disappeared, I was inside prison.”
Noordien claims she was often hounded by police to complete interview and interrogation sessions including a lie detector test.
“They would fetch us daily to be questioned and when I was so fed up, I told them to do a lie detector test because I could not take it anymore,” said the mother of three.
“I passed above average for the test.
“They (police) would fetch me and say I sold my child. Even the people in the community said I sold my child to pay off a drug debt.”
A police source has since revealed that the docket contained information pointing to Asheeqah having possibly been human trafficked to Nigerians.
A few months after Asheeqah disappeared, Jansen was released from prison and began her fight to find her granddaughter.
Today she continues to fight.
“When I went to the police station, that time, they said the case was closed but I fought to keep it open,” she said.
“Today, we have no police visiting our home to give us feedback and we are the ones who are visiting the police station to ask what is happening with the case.
“We just want closure, even if it is a body.
“We are also asking if a photograph of hers cannot be modified with the ageing process because she will be 21 this year, on July 29.
Noordien said DNA samples via mouth swabs were also tested about 18 months ago to ascertain whether any unclaimed bodies at Tygerberg Mortuary was Asheeqah.
“They came and took a swab via my mouth about 18 months ago,” she said.
“We received the results at the start of 2020 and there were no matches there. They said they would continue testing unclaimed bodies.”
Police spokesperson, Captain FC van Wyk confirmed the case had been handed over to FCS. ”The case you are referring to is still under investigation and at this stage there are no new developments to report.”
Since the Cold Case series began a month ago, organisations such as the Anti-murder Campaign and the Missing Persons Unit have started to raise awareness.
Candice van der Rheede, founder of the Western Cape Missing Persons Unit has shared the newspaper posts of missing persons such as the three little girls from Mitchells Plain, Kauthar Bobbs, 5, Shaskia Michaels, 4, and Anastasia Lucas, 7, stating they want to assist in the cases.
Rozario Brown of the Anti-murder Campaign said a cold case squad was needed. “With thousands of murders and missing persons taking place across Cape Town and South Africa on an annual basis, I believe that it is not only the right thing for the government to do, but morally correct to establish a cold case squad to look into these murders and missing persons cases.
“After all, these are our sons, fathers, mothers and daughters. It wouldn’t cost the government much to set up a dedicated unit to investigate these murders and help bring closure to the victim’s families and loved ones.
“It is only when these cases are resolved and guilty parties brought to book that the high rate of murders will come down.
“A cold case investigations unit could help turn the tide against violent crime in our country and send out a very powerful message to murderers that the law would eventually catch up with them.”
Despite the huge problem, provincial police have confirmed that there is no cold case squad at Mitchells Plain Police Station where three little girls have been missing for decades.