South Africa


Prayers held where abducted Lenasia woman’s body found in shallow grave

Prayers held where abducted Lenasia woman’s body found in shallow grave
People gather at the site where Naadira Vanker’s body was found. No one was allowed to enter the yard except Vanker’s family and a few community activists. (Photo: Shiraaz Mohamed)

On Sunday 2 May, residents of Lenasia South and Phumlamqashi converged at the shallow grave where the body of Naadira Vanker, a young Lenasia South woman, was found six days after her disappearance. The communities held a multi-faith ceremony at the site.

The cries of a distraught mother pierced the air as prayers were said on Sunday over the shallow grave where the body of Naadira Vanker was discovered just over a week ago. 


Naardira Vanker

Naadira Vanker, 30 whose body was found in a shallow grave six days after her disappearance. (Photo: Shiraaz Mohamed)


A teacher and mother of four, Vanker (30) was abducted during a robbery on 22 April. Her car was found abandoned in Ennerdale a few hours later. Members of the community searched for her and her mother, Naeema Vanker, offered a R50,000 reward for the return of her daughter. 

Mother of Naadira, Naeema Vanker (middle of image), is comforted by community activist Dean Rosenburg. (Photo: Shiraaz Mohamed)

The search ended when Vanker’s body was found in a shallow grave in Phumlamqashi six days after her disappearance. 

Lucky Mshubi (36), who was apparently known to the family, was arrested and appeared in the Lenasia Magistrates’ Court on 30 April. He is facing charges of murder, housebreaking with intent to rob, robbery with aggravating circumstances, kidnapping and defeating the ends of justice. 

Residents watch from outside the yard as family members say a prayer. (Photo: Shiraaz Mohamed)

On Sunday, a large convoy of vehicles drove from Lenasia South to the site where Vanker’s body was dug up. 

The shallow grave in which Naadira Vanker’s body was discovered six days after her disappearance. (Photo: Shiraaz Mohamed)

The group was joined by residents of Phumlamqashi. People of different faiths said prayers for Naadira and her family. 

A blanket and items of clothing believed to belong to Vanker’s one-year-old son lay beside the open grave. The grave was later filled with soil and flowers were placed on it. Candles were lit while residents from Phumlamqashi stood singing songs as they watched the ceremony from outside.

A man takes his turn to say a prayer. The ceremony saw participants from the Christian, Muslim and Hindu faiths. (Photo: Shiraaz Mohamed)

A resident, Rose Ramashaba, said of the murder: “We are not happy about this. The community is in shock. This is wrong, very, very wrong.”

Another resident, who did not want to be named, said: “We are afraid of him [the suspect]. If he did it to this lady, what about us? Who is the next person?”

Adman Valley (face not in image) lays down a bouquet of flowers after the grave was covered. (Photo: Shiraaz Mohamed)

Speaking to Daily Maverick as she made her way to her vehicle after the ceremony, Naeema Vanker described how painful it was standing in front of the grave.

“What did my child go through? Did my child deserve something like this? Even my worst enemy does not deserve something like this. Can anybody do something like this? Robbing my child, kidnapping her, hijacking her car and coming to do this [burying her body in the shallow grave], I feel so much anger towards the perpetrator and that’s just the one. When he stood there in court I felt like climbing over there and grabbing at him, but I asked myself, ‘Is it going to bring her back?’ ”

Gauteng National Prosecuting Authority spokesperson Phindi Mjonondwane said that Mshubi will remain in custody after he indicated to the court that he did not wish to apply for bail and that he would represent himself. The case was postponed to 23 June. A second suspect remains at large. DM


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