The family of a missing Wynberg teenager is pleading for any information that could help trace her whereabouts six years after her disappearance.
Le-Jeandre de Bruyn went missing without a trace on Tuesday October 7 2014, leaving her family and police desperate for answers.
Her mother Catherine de Bruyn said there was no new information to help find her daughter.
It was the October school holidays and the Wynberg Secondary School pupil had been packed and ready to visit her cousin in Northpine a day before she disappeared.
“I told her to get her things ready to go to her cousin but when I got home from work Le-Jeandre was not home and it was past her curfew. Not thinking too much of it I thought she was at one of her friends’ house – where she spent a lot of time and lost track of time,” she said.
Her brother went to look for her at the homes of two of her friends who also lived at the Military base in Wynberg but she was not there.
“At the time we got information that she was spotted at the Wynberg taxi terminals and we went to search for her there but couldn’t find her and it started getting dark already so we called her father and went to the police station to report her missing.
“At the time police told us that it is a common occurrence for teenagers to run away but it didn’t make sense that she would run away especially seeing that she was so excited to go away to her cousins for the holiday,” said Ms De Bruyn.
Le-Jeandre’s asthma pump, clothes and everything else that was packed was still at home, making the family believe she hadn’t run away because she would have taken these things with her if she had.
Reports of her sighting at the Wynberg taxi terminals could not be corroborated by police.
The family accompanied police to various locations as well as hospitals and mortuaries but nothing led them any closer to finding the teen.
Ms De Bruyn said it had been a tough six years:
“I miss her. In May she turned 21 and I had high hopes that she would come back then but she didn’t. But we are not giving up hope. We need answers because at the moment we don’t know what could have happened to her or why she just disappeared.
“I am pleading to anyone with information to please assist us to be reunited. I think about her every single day and wonder what could have happened to her. It is very difficult but we will not give up hope. To Le-Jeandre, if you are out there please come back. We miss you and wish for you to be back home with us,” said Ms De Bruyn.
Father Warren de Bruyn said he thought about his daughter every day.
“It’s been very emotional and there is no closure. It is our hopes and prayer that she comes back. I honestly don’t think she would run away but anything is possible. The fact that there has been no body found still gives us hope that she is out there,” he said.
Ms De Bruyn’s ex-boyfrind, who lived with them at the time of her disappearance, was questioned at the time but no further information was available and he went missing about a month after she was reported missing.
Wynberg police spokesperson Captain Silvino Davids confirmed that he was questioned.
“The ex boyfriend of Ms De Bruyn went missing not long after Le-Jeandre’s disappearance and his car was found at a train station. His gun was also found in Ms De Bruyn’s safe but no further information is available. The missing person case will remain open and anyone with any information can contact us”.
Bianca van Aswegen, national coordinator for Missing Children South Africa, said the organisation is running a “Still not found” campaign where they look into cold cases hoping for more information years after the first missing report.
She said there has been a hype around attempted kidnappings and explained that kidnappings do not only refer to human trafficking but could be ransom related and opportunistic.
She said people are unaware of human trafficking.
“People think that it will not happen to them or their children but we need to make it clear that it is happening and people need to be vigilant.
“There have been a few cases in the media and people get hyped. The reality is that there are various reasons for kidnappings but we implore for parents to be vigilant especially in public spaces.”
She said children as well as adults are at risk of becoming victims: “People are often times lured with false job opportunities and that is when adults become victims. We encourage people to find out if companies and people offering work opportunities are legit”.
She also encouraged parents to keep track of what their children are doing and who they are speaking to on social media.
“Always be aware and if a child does go missing, report it immediately to police – there is no waiting period.”
Le-Jeandre’s case will also feature on TV programme Vermis on Tuesday October 27 on DSTV’s channel 147.