The decapitated body of a Grassy Park woman was found in Strandfontein after she had been missing for nearly a month.
Her partner, who lived with her under a bridge in Strandfontein, made the gruesome discovery last week.
Neels Shabalala, 42, who has made his home on the corner hill at Strandfontein Pavilion pool, said he had been searching for Patricia Williams, 40, from Grassy Park, since last month.
While few people had joined the search for Ms Williams, he never stopped looking, he said.
“I walked along the path and saw dry blood. I kept walking towards the Strandfontein sports field, close to a bush and back underneath the bridge.
“A strong stench came to me. I found her laying in the bush. I could not see the head at first and saw it next to her body. I immediately reached out to police and reported it,” he said.
Strandfontein SAPS Detective Warrant Officer Andre Fransman said the body was found on Monday August 24, at 2.30pm. An inquest has been opened and the investigation continues, he said.
On Saturday July 4, Mr Shabalala was arrested for possession of drugs and that was the last time he had seen Ms Williams – when she made him some tea and bread before he came out to the beach and got arrested.
When he returned to where he was staying under the bridge, on Wednesday July 29, Ms Williams was missing. The scarf she usually wore was left behind along with her shoes – and she never left without them, he said.
When he asked others who were staying close to them at the bridge if they had seen Ms Williams, they said they had heard a woman scream early in the morning but had gone back to sleep.
Mr Shabalala kept looking for her and reached out to former police officer and Ottery resident Keith Blake, who often fishes at Strandfontein beach and is well-known among the fisherfolk in the area.
“Neels never had closure (and) when she was found, he finally received it,” said Mr Blake.
“Everyoneinvolvedreally helped us look for her, especially StrandfonteinSAPS.”
Recalling how they had met, Mr Shabalala said it was a rainy day in 2017 when he saw Ms Williams sitting alone at “The Broken Road” at the beach. He approached her and started talking to her – and they’ve been together for nearly four years, he said.
“I miss her a lot, now more than ever. Finding her in that state was very disheartening for me and sad. I can’t believe it but I hope justice is served,” he said.
Ms Williams has six children with whom she had hopes of being reunited, said Mr Shabalala. She had stayed at Place of Hope in Athlone before ending up in the streets. She was struggling, he said.
Ms Williams’ father, Christopher Hill, 64, from Grassy Park, said the family had not seen her since January.
“The police visited my house and shared the news with me and I told them I had predicted that she is not alive anymore.
“As a parent it hurts to have something like this happen to your child. I told two of her children, one living with me and one living close by, they were saddened by the news and it broke our hearts,” said Mr Hill.
“Patricia wasn’t a talkative person. She wasn’t happy as life worked against her. I spoke to her a lot in hope that she would change and improve her life. I miss her so much,” he said.
Ms Williams is the eldest of four children, he said. “It will be a financial challenge for the family to bury her, this is all disheartening for us,” said Mr Hill.
Mr Shabalala, who is from Kimberley, said: “I never experienced the sea in my hometown, we only had rivers and dams. Ons was baie saam by die see. She was a very wise person, I was so happy with her. We spent a lot of time watching the sun rise and set.”
As a young boy, Mr Shabalala had worked as a domestic worker but when the family he moved with to Cape Town, split up, he did not have a place to stay. He moved to Schaapkraal with another family and worked in construction and when his contract ended, and he moved to 7de Laan informal settlement in Strandfontein. He visited the sea often and moved close by, he said.
“I dreamt about her while I was in prison. I tried waking her in the dream but she did not wake up. I then woke up from my dream and felt despondent. I prayed after my dream in hope that she was okay,” he said. “I miss my Patina, I moved away from the bridge as it reminds me of her, I miss her so much.”.
If you would like to assist the family, call Mr Hill on 062 550 3412. If you have any information that can help the investigation, contact Detective Warrant Officer Fransman on 082 469 3225.