Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

David Selepe

Questions but No Answers

On October 17, a man identified his daughter from a picture in the newspaper. Her name was Amanda Kebofile Thethe, and her body had been found on August 6. She had already been given a pauper's burial. Amanda was 26 years old when she left her parents' house at 9:00 a.m. on August 2. She was to pay an account in Johannesburg, and then go to Soshanguve, north of Pretoria, where she was a teacher.

Johannesburg Central police station
Johannesburg Central police station

On October 20, Nomvula Mokonyane, Amanda Thethe's aunt and a member of the local government, disclosed the ineptness Amanda's family encountered when they tried to report her disappearance. Initially, a week after they last saw Amanda, they had gone to the police station at John Vorster Plain, Johannesburg, only to be informed that there was "a lack of stationery," according to the October 21, 1994, edition of Beeld. They were told to go to another station. They went to the station in Krugersdorp, where they lived. A week later, when they inquired about any progress, the docket had been misplaced. Mokonyane did, however, praise the Brixton Unit for their handling of the case since Amanda had been identified.

On this same day, another victim was identified by her parents. She was 25-year-old Malesu Betty Phalahadi. Interestingly, not only had she disappeared on September 2, the same day Ntombi Makhasi was last seen alive, but the two women were both discovered the very next day - Ntombi near the Jupiter train station and Betty near the Geldenhuis station. This wasn't the only interesting thing related to Betty's murder, however.

On October 19, a woman phoned Grace Lehlake, Betty's mother, asking whether she knew where her daughter was. Grace asked the same question of the woman, who replied that Grace should call the police and hung up. Who was this woman, and why did she only phone a month and a half after Betty's disappearance? What did she know, and perhaps more importantly, how did she know it? Betty was believed to have visited a girlfriend in Mabopane, Pretoria, on the day of her disappearance, and they would supposedly have travelled together by train to Johannesburg on that day. Was this perhaps the woman who called? If so, why not reveal her identity and contact the police directly? Or was it someone who knew the killer?

Questions, but no answers. There was only a police officer who wanted to marry Betty Phalahadi, but had earlier recognized his fiancée's clothes at the Brixton Murder and Robbery Unit.


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