It’s been a year since her six-year-old daughter vanished without a trace, and Sandra November says she’s “almost lost the will to live”.
Sandra is the mother of little Shasha-Lee November, six, who disappeared while playing outside her home in Hanover Park.
As the world marks International Missing Children’s Day today, the mom is still hopeful that her laatlammetjie will be found alive and well.
Devastation and heartache is etched on the 47-year-old’s face as she stands at her hekkie, staring at her neighbour’s children playing in the street.
Sandra suffered a massive stroke two days after her child’s disappearance, and even shaved off her hair in her grief.
She tells the Daily Voice: “I stood outside today and I was thinking of her.
“I miss her very much, that’s why I am always standing outside, hoping I will see her.”
While Sandra continues to cling onto hope, Dessie Rechner, the Director of The Pink Ladies, says they believe the little girl was taken by someone in her very own community, a predator who had been watching her.
On May 3, 2015, at about 4pm, Shasha-Lee was seen playing outside her Groenal Walk home, Hanover Park.
The little girl, who was in Grade 1 at Belmore Primary school, was last seen wearing a white shorts and T-shirt with green slippers and she has a burn mark on one of her cheeks.
Mayor Patricia de Lille put up a R25 000 reward for any information leading to her being found, but police say the trail has run cold.
Sandra, who has two other children, says every day is a blessing and a curse – it’s one more that she hasn’t been told her daughter is dead, and one more day to worry if she will ever be found.
The former City of Cape Town cleaning contractor is unable to use her right hand following her stroke.
“I also cut off my hair this month because I am stressed, I get a lot of headaches,” she says.
“I can’t sleep at night, my husband often wakes up asking me why I cannot sleep.
“How can I sleep when my baby isn’t home?” she asks, breaking down.
“The police say there are no new leads on Shasha, there’s just a poster on a wall in our street, she’s been forgotten.”
On May 3, The Pink Ladies held a vigil in Groenal Walk, where Dessie once again appealed for mense to come forward with information.
Dessie tells the Daily Voice: “I told them that I knew someone in that community knows what |happened to Shasha.”
But she says it’s not all doom and gloom for missing children in the Western Cape.
In fact, she rubbished reports that one child goes missing every five hours in South Africa.
Dessie says the Pink Ladies work in conjunction with the police and constantly update their facts and figures.
In 2015, 195 children went missing in the Cape, of which 188 were found alive – a 96 percent success rate, according to Dessie.
Sadly, seven children were found dead, three under the age of 10.
“It is a total myth that a child goes missing every five hours and that you need to wait for 24 hours to report someone missing,” Dessie states.
“Today, a lot of children go missing but they are being found alive resulting in a good recovery rate.”
She says nationally this year, a total of 376 children and adults vanished – of which 353 were found alive – while 23 were found deceased, including a case in the Western Cape.
“This was the case of Shamonique Shawn-Dean Claasen, 11, who went missing and her body was found under a relative’s bed, wrapped in a black bag in Paarl in February,” explains Dessie.
“But overall, we’re looking at a 94 percent recovery rate nationally.”
A 23-year-old suspect known to the family has since been arrested for her murder.
Dessie says it’s hard keeping statistics and figures accurate if missing person agencies do not report cases to police.
“You cannot place statistics out there when you do not disclose information to police,” she says.
“When you have recovered someone, report it and share it with police.”
If you have information about missing people, please contact police or the Pink Ladies on 072 214 7439.