Family’s hope for answers after 19 years after teen vanished
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Cape Town - The family of a 17-year-old school girl who has been missing for 19 years has not given up hope and are calling for police to keep the case open.
Nokwanele Gontsana, disappeared from Strandfontein Pavilion nearly two decades ago.
Despite a suspect being questioned by police and skeletal remains found in 2010 along Strandfontein Road which were too old to be tested, the family continue to seek answers for closure.
The family lacked funding to hire a private investigator.
The suspect, who cannot be identified, was from Gugulethu and known to the teen and was never arrested or kept in custody.
Nokwanele vanished on September 27, 2002, while in matric at Alexander Sinton High School in Athlone.
Nokwanele had paid her school fees and was in casual clothing.
She left the school’s premises and attended a party at Strandfontein Pavilion and was never seen again.
In 2010, then-Premier Helen Zille offered a R50 000 reward for information on the whereabouts of the missing teen.
Now, nearly two decades since her disappearance, police have confirmed the case has been reopened and that leads are being followed up, despite the family not being informed.
Nokwanele’s mother, Florence Gontsana, passed away last year without answers.
The family also started a Facebook Page years ago, called: “Missing Nokwanele Gontsana,” keeping her memory alive by sharing photographs and messages of hope from family and friends.
Police spokesperson, Captain FC van Wyk confirmed the case was reopened and did not give further details on why and when. “Be advised that the case was reopened. Leads are followed up, and the investigations continue.”
Nokwanele’s sister, Thobeka Ncalo, said they were still hoping to find closure. “The case should continue, we need closure, whether she is alive or not.
“We lost our mother last year and our father in 2007. We need answers as a family. In 2010 they said they would take the bones for testing but we never heard of that again.”
Thobeka said their sister’s disappearance created a huge void in their family but they never gave up hope and sadly their mother died without knowing answers.
“My mother was the one who kept all the information about the case and documented it and she died last year,” she said.
“My sister was the baby of the family and we are over eight siblings. She was always around everyone. She never slept out of the house and yes we knew she had a boyfriend. We miss her very much.”
Nokwanele’s other sister, Nokuzola Gontsana, said they also wanted answers: “It is indeed necessary to reopen the case in order for the entire family to have closure.”