Tech being used to find missing mother who has been gone for four decades

AGE-progression depiction of Jean Groenewald as she may appear today.

AGE-progression depiction of Jean Groenewald as she may appear today.

Published Feb 10, 2024


Cape Town - A 44-year-old woman is hoping progression technology will help in her search for her birth mother who has been missing for four decades.

Shireen Diedericks, 44, of Gqeberha was left in the care of her aunt when she was a toddler.

“When I was just 2 years old, she contacted her family in PE (now Gqeberha) to fetch me because she wanted her family to raise me.

Now, Diedericks has turned to the experts at Track n Trace, hoping that age-progression technology will help her find her mother.

She recently visited Cape Town and tracked down family members, hoping they would have some leads.

Diedericks’s birth mother, Jean Groenewald, also known as Rafieka Groenewald, was last seen in 1980 and would now be 68.

She was spotted in Atlantis 15 years ago by an acquaintance.

Diedericks was raised by her mother’s sister, Mona Jacobs, 73. At the time, Groenewald had contacted her family to fetch her daughter from Kensington.

“When I was 12 years old, I heard the story that Mona was not my mother and that my own mother was missing for years.”

Diedericks said her biological father, Haroon Abrahams, who was from Kensington, had died last year and also had no knowledge of what had happened to her mother.

Age progression of Jean Groenewald. pic supplied

Age-progression experts have used images of Mona and Diedericks to transform her face into the present-day age of 68.

“My mother’s family live in PE and she will know where her family’s home is after all these years,” Diedericks said.

She said they had also learnt that Groenewald might be using the name “Rafieka”. She had visited a mosque in Cape Town in the hope that their records could shed some light.

“She has not applied for Sassa and is not deceased, according to records, and the name ‘Rafieka Groenewald’ was in records at that mosque.

“When the age-progression picture of her was circulated, people said she looked familiar,” she added.

Track n Trace’s Chaz Thomas said the family had searched on their own and had now approached experts to do the age progression: “We are hoping that this will help the family to gain closure.”