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Missing children: Devastated parents plead for help

DURBAN, South Africa – AS families across the world unite to celebrate Christmas, the joy of the festive season for some KZN families will be marred with sorrow as they celebrate without loved ones who were still missing.

On Christmas Day it will be exactly three months since 24-year-old Thembelihle Vilakazi of Clairwood, who is mentally unstable, went missing while wearing black jeans, a white T-shirt and a denim jacket.

Police said on November 12 that 8-year-old Nhlonipho Melusi Nkosi had been playing in a rondavel at home when he disappeared.

While his family was searching for him, his underwear was found near the Bivane River not far from his home in Paulpietersburg, but he could not be located.

On November 12, during a search for 8-year-old Nhlonipho Melusi Nkozi, who disappeared while playing in a rondavel at home, his family and members of their community found his underwear close to a nearby river.

A source close to the investigation told the Daily News that it was believed that the boy’s underwear was left near the river to “throw the investigation off”.

“Newcastle search and rescue scoured the terrain all the way to the Pongolo River looking for him, but he was never found,” said the source.

Over a month ago, 17-year-old Lucy Ntuli left her Glenwood home to go to school, but she never returned home and has not been seen since then.

                       Glenwood teen, Lucy Ntuli left home for school on November 6, and has not been seen since then.

On Tuesday, it will be three months since the family of Nondumiso Goodness Ximba, 29, began their search for her. She disappeared after leaving her Pietermaritzburg home to travel to Durban.

Siphelele Junior Ntuli, 17, has also been missing for three months. She disappeared after leaving her KwaDabeka home with her grandmother.

                KwaDabeka teen Siphelele Junior Ntuli, who has a distinct scar on her left leg, has been missing for three months.

The family of Mbhekiseni Alfred Duma, 67, had expected to see him walk through the door of their KwaMakhutha home on September 20; however, they have not seen him since he left home that day in his white Toyota Hilux.

Police said the day after he went missing that his daughter had received a phone call from unknown people, saying people had chased after her father and his life had been in danger, but he was safe in KwaDukuza (Stanger) and would return home.

Towards the end of August, 6-year-old Zabelo Lungelo Nala disappeared while herding cattle with other boys in Eshowe. He ran towards his homestead when the boys came across hunting dogs, and has not been seen since that day.

This week, police spokesperson Captain Nqobile Gwala confirmed that all these people were still being sought by police.

Nearly six months ago, the Daily News reported about missing Sydenham student teacher, Luyanda Perfect Xolo.

Police were sent questions around concerns raised by Xolo’s family regarding the investigation into his disappearance, but they had not replied to them at the time of publication.

Xolo, a second-year Unisa student from Margate, lived with his aunt in Burnwood while teaching at a private academy in oThongathi.

He left his Burnwood home on June 1. Three men who were alleged to have been seen drinking with the missing student, and had taken his cellphone to his family, were taken in for questioning by police.

After questioning they were released due to lack of evidence against them.

                                                                                        Luyanda “Peace” Xolo

“My wife, every Saturday, has to go in and see the doctor because she is no longer well,” said Xolo’s father, 67-year-old Johnson Xolo.

“I have lost so much weight due to the stress that I have while trying to find my son. We have looked in mortuaries and have not found him, and the police have been no help whatsoever.

“The police officer from Sydenham told me he wished another officer could take over the case because he can’t arrest the boys who were last with Luyanda as they know him and might open a case against him. I see all around me people going on about Christmas; we don’t even have the money for Christmas and even if we did we wouldn’t be happy on that day because my son has still not been found. Through Luyanda, I felt like, in my life, I had achieved something, and now it’s taken away from me.”

He said he was unhappy with the investigation into his son’s disappearance in relation to the young man who handed over his son’s phone.

                                                Thembelihle Vilakazi from Clairwood has been missing since October 25.

He said his son’s brother, after checking the phone using the device’s google account, examined its timeline and activities on June 1 and the 2nd.

Xolo said they found that around 9pm Luyanda left home moving from Burnwood to Springfield.

“Around 2am the phone shows it was around the vicinity of Makro and then around 4:30 am it showed it was on Umgeni Road. Why then had the police not told me all this? Did they really even check the phone,” asked Xolo.

He said the situation had frustrated him so much so that he had thoughts of taking the law into his own hands, except he was not the kind of person that wanted people’s blood on his hands.

He said there were many other leads that he had found and let police know but were never followed to an extent that an arrest was made.

“Another child, Dolly, who was with them that night told me that all their phones were collected by Wonder that night and that same Wonder was found with a picture of Luyanda on his phone. I have had no joy with the Sydenham police. We have never stopped looking for him and chasing leads,” said Xolo.

He alleged that this Wonder had undergone a lie detector test which he failed.

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