All her life, Nthatisi Nyokana of Hanover Park, believed she was Alice Tshimanga.
Then the 23-year-old woman, who has a three-year-old son, learned that she was actually snatched as a five-year-old in the Eastern Cape by a man who later pretended to be her father.
After learning the truth, she had no way of finding her biological family and created a Facebook Page called “Help Bring Nthatisi home”.
As fate would have it, her brother read her story online after it was shared by hundreds of people, and now Nthatisi is raising funds to go home and see her family.
In the meantime, she has married a Muslim man and changed her name to Aalia Willie.
Nthatisi’s journey of discovery began three years ago when she fell pregnant just as she was about to write her matric exams at Mountview High School in Hanover Park.
Nthatisi, who was raised by foster parents, says: “I was pregnant, but prepared to finish my exams in matric.
“But when it was time for me to write my finals, they said there was a problem with my papers, my permit.”
It turned out that she was in South Africa as a legal alien.
As social workers and officials from Home Affairs questioned her, repressed memories started surfacing, and she remembered how the man who she believed was her father sexually abused her.
“I remembered that I grew up everywhere (on the African continent),” she says.
“The day I was abducted, I was around five years old and I was playing in the backyard and we had a mud house.
“A man with dreadlocks said he was my father’s friend and that I needed to walk with him to get chips.
“We got the chips and the next thing we got onto a bus and to a place where there was a lot of shacks.
“He kept me for days and didn’t want me playing outside.
“My abductor, who I thought was my father, was from Congo.
“We travelled through Congo, Namibia and many other countries which I cannot remember.
“Then he got into some trouble for raping a child in one of the villages and wanted to cross the border into South Africa.
“He told the authorities that I am his daughter and we got asylum papers.”
She remembers moving to Langa and attending school before her abductor was eventually arrested for rape and imprisoned.
She was 13 when she was sent to live with a foster family in Hanover Park, and says after finding out her true identity, she had many questions about her family.
In January 2019, Nthatisi posted her story on Facebook, naming her father whom she remembers as Sechaba and her brother, Tsepiso.
It turned out her brother’s name is actually Lebogang.
“He made contact with me via Facebook and sent me pictures of a little girl and I showed him the pictures I had of when I was smaller, and unbelievably, it was the same girl,” she says.
“He said I was his sister who was taken in 2001 and showed me my birth certificate.
“I was placed into contact with my grandmother and learnt that my mother died 12 years ago.”
Lebogang said the family reported her as missing at Mayville Police Station in KwaZulu-Natal, but cops had nothing to go on.
Nthatisi says she has not seen her kidnapper since he was jailed.
“He used me every day and in every way possible (sexually) from the first time he took me,” she says.
It is now her dream to go to Matatiele in the Eastern Cape to meet her family.
Her mother-in-law, Fagmiedah Willie, 63, says Nthatisi needs closure.
“She deserves to meet her family. We have the travelling fare, but we need money to sustain us while we are there, as we would like to stay at least a month. We are hoping the police can help us there and give her answers.”
If you would like to reunite Nthatisi with her family, call Fagmiedah on 073 453 7527.