Betty Ketani's family just want to lay her to rest
The only thing Thandiwe Betty Ketani's family wants is to have her remains so they can bury her and find closure.
Ketani‚ who worked as a chef at Rosebank Thai restaurant Cranks‚ disappeared in May 1999. Thirteen years later‚ a letter confessing to her murder was discovered hidden in a Johannesburg house.
The author of the letter was allegedly Carrington Laughton‚ one of three men charged with Ketani's murder.
Judge Natvarial Ranchod on Monday began delivering his judgment in the Johannesburg High Court in the trial of Laughton and brothers David and Carel Ranger‚ both former police officers‚ who were charged with murder‚ assault‚ kidnapping and theft.
The three men pleaded not guilty. Three other men earlier pleaded guilty and testified in exchange for lighter sentences.
Ketani's daughter Bulelwa‚ 28‚ who lives in her mother's hometown of Queenstown in the Eastern Cape‚ said on Monday that although she and her brother and sister were supported by family‚ they were worse off without their mother.
"My mother was selfless. She did not only take care of us‚ but everyone in our family. She was a happy person and loved to laugh‚" an emotional Bulelwa said.
"My younger sister [now 18 years old] got pregnant at 16 and my eldest brother's medical condition is bad.
"I don't think any of this would be happening if our mother was still alive."
Bulelwa said she last saw her mother in Queenstown in 1999 during the Easter holiday.
"The sad part is that my younger sister doesn't remember much about our mother because she was very young when she died."
She said she was sad that she could not even go to her mother's grave to talk to her whenever she needed to because her remains were still not buried.
"Her spirit is lingering around. I can't talk to her or even go to her grave because there isn't one‚" Bulelwa said.
A few small bones from the hands and feet are all that has been found of Ketani's remains. These were found in the garden of the house where the confession letter was hidden. Her body lay in the garden under flower beds for five years before it was dug up and thrown in a river.
Ketani's uncle Eric Kula said the family was told they could only bury the bones after the court case had been finalised.
"We can't wait for the case to reach finality so we can bury my sister and find closure‚" he said.
Bulelwa said it would not be easy to find closure because of the circumstances under which her mother died.
"I sometimes feel like she's going to come back. We waited for years after she disappeared hoping she would come back alive.
"I hope the suspects will spend the rest of their lives in jail‚" she said.
Kula said it did not matter how long the men would stay in jail as that would not bring his sister back.
Kula said the family was grateful that they were given permission to fetch Ketani's spirit from the house where her remains were found.
"In our culture we have to take her spirit home."
Judgment continues on Wednesday. - TMG Digital/TMG Courts and Law