Two missing tots, two grieving moms, two men they once trusted
Geography may separate them, but these women are united in their pain as their former partners stand trial
Just under 300km separate them, but two mothers share the same grief months since their respective toddlers were last seen.
Both three-year-olds were last in the care of people they were entrusted to.
In Harrismith, Free State, Cheinelle Nortjé is battling to deal with the disappearance of her son Liam in November last year. He was never returned home after a visit to his father Nantes, 47, who is now in custody on a case related to his disappearance.
Free State police spokesperson Sergeant Mmako Mophiring said Nantes would be appearing at the Harrismith Magistrates’ Court on October 19, where it’s expected that the father will be sent for evaluation.
“His attorney has applied for him to be sent for psychiatric evaluation. The court has already given the green light that he can go. The only thing that was a problem was the availability of beds at the Grootvlei prison hospital.”
Mophiring explained the child went missing while in the care of his father. He said the father never returned the child after the weekend he spent with him, as per the maintenance court agreement with the mother.
The couple separated after a marriage of 23 years.
“After several failed attempts by the mother to get the child back, she opened a missing person case and police started searching for the little boy and the father,” Mophiring said.
“We also circulated the father’s details across all our police stations, and he was listed as a wanted person.”
Nantes was arrested in July following an intense police search. “He was found hiding at an informal settlement in Ladysmith, KwaZulu-Natal, but the child was not with him.”
Mophiring said even after his arrest, the father failed to disclose the whereabouts of Liam. “He sent everyone on a wild goose chase. When asked where the child is, he gave police addresses, but the child was never found at those places.”
In Roodepoort, west of Johannesburg, police are still searching for the body of Liyaqat (Lee) Mentoor, who went missing on March 16 this year after he was left in the care of his mother’s boyfriend.
The case against the man believed to have harmed Lee, Onke Mashinini, 29, also rests on a few tiny blood spots found in Mashinini’s parental home.
Mashinini, who was Kaylah’s boyfriend at the time, has since been charged with kidnapping, defeating the ends of justice, negligence – and murder.
But there is nobody. And no trace still of Lee, the toddler who loves pizza, Spider-Man and the Cars movie.
Roodepoort police spokesperson Sergeant Juliet Mogale said police were still searching for Liyaqat. “We are following all leads that we receive and continue searching for Lee,” Mogale said.
For Lee’s mother, it’s an emotional rollercoaster, and she wants closure. Her aunt, Estelle Delport, speaking on her behalf, said on Monday afternoon: “Lee has been missing for almost seven months now and nothing has come to light. This guy is not saying anything, and police have still not found Lee. It’s a really hard time for the family. We’ve searched everywhere,” Delport explained.
The mother’s ex-boyfriend will be back in court at the Roodepoort Magistrates’ Court on October 10.
AfriForum’s advocate Gerrie Nel said at the time they were confident the case would receive the necessary attention after speaking to the police.
“We will‚ however‚ monitor the case and continue to support the family. Our aim is to ensure that justice is served.”
Criminal law attorney Garry Hertzberg said the courts were taking child abuse cases very seriously and the age of the victim played a big part when it came to sentencing. He said if found guilty on a murder charge where a child was a victim, the accused could be sentenced to life imprisonment.
It is only the second time in SA that a suspect is being charged for murder with no body being found, Times Select reported earlier. The first was that of SAPS constable Francis Rasuge, who went missing in 2004.
William Nkuna was sentenced to life in prison for murder a year later, in November 2005, and Rasuge’s remains were only discovered at Nkuna’s home in Pretoria in 2012.