Estelle Botha, 16, torched, dismembered…

Afrikaans student Estelle Botha, 16, body torched, dismembered Aug 16 2007, Koedoespoort – grieving mom Estelle wants to have the killers found

Feb 13 2011 – Sunday Times journalist Werner Swart interviewed the distraught mother of 16-year-old Afrikaans college student Estelle Botha of Pretoria, who was murdered most gruesomely on Aug 16, 2007: her body was found torched next to a railway line in Koedoespoort, 18km from where she was last seen after a karaoke night out with friends in Gezina. Mom Estelle has been waiting three-and-a-half years for her teen daughter’s murderers to be found.

BOTHA Estelle 16 torched dismembered Koedoespoort Aug162007

Last year the case was finally handed to seasoned crime-investigator Capt Mike van Aardt. Another  detective was quoted as saying to the Sunday Times journalist that the previous investigation’s long list of blunders now made Van Aardt’s job extremely difficult. Van Aardt appeals for the public to come forward: ‘someone out there knows who she left with and who she was last seen with. I think it’s time for those people to talk,” he said. Call Captain Van Aardt on 0825751808.

Police bungles included their failure to gather vital evidence at the crime scene; they did not interview staff nor patrons who were at the karaoke-pub in Gezina where the girl was last seen with her friends at 9pm before her murder. Also: police had failed to cordon off the crime scene properly nor search there for clues. Two weeks after the murder, friends and relatives who had gone to the crime scene to pay their respects, found the girl’s severed hand, her bag, make-up and a half-burnt porn magazine that may have been used to set her on fire. “This was vital evidence that the police missed … and probably why they have not arrested her killer,” said her mother in her interview with the Sunday Times.

The teenaged student disappeared after going out with friends for a karaoke evening to a pub, Cabanas – now closed down. She left it at 9pm. The next time anyone saw her was when her torched body was found next to a railway line in Koedoespoort 8km away. The girl’s charred and dismembered body was discovered by security guards near the railway line the next day. They told police they had seen two  ‘men’ (no further details provided) speed away in a white bakkie.

While Van Aardt himself would not be drawn on the standard of the police work in 2007 in his interview with the Sunday Times, another detective said the series of blunders had badly hampered the murder investigation. The detective, who asked not to be named, said it was standard practice to cordon off the scene to prevent people “trampling” on evidence. It was also routine to comb the area, collecting anything, no matter how apparently insignificant, including clothing and cigarette butts. Van Aardt would not comment, saying he had not been involved in the investigations at the scene. An unhappy Botha said her child “deserved so much better than this… I deserve to know what happened to my daughter that night and why someone killed her as if she was worth nothing. She had all these plans for the future and was like any typical teenager.” Anyone with information that may be helpful should call Captain Van Aardt on 0825751808. http://www.timeslive.co.za/sundaytimes/article910086.ece/Hopeless-case–top-cop-steps-in

About Adriana Stuijt
Retired South African-Dutch journalist formerly Sunday Times Johannesburg

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