Rene-Tracy Roman's disappearance brought 'days of hell' to Lavender Hill

09 September 2018 - 00:00 By TANYA FARBER

A vigil in Cape Town last month in memory of Rene-Tracy Roman marked another milestone on a journey that began with a cry on March 10 last year: "Our child is missing, our child is missing!"
The vigil was held days after Rene-Tracy's neighbour, Andrew Plaatjies, 50, was sentenced to 50 years behind bars by the high court in Cape Town for murder and attempted rape.
The 13-year-old's mother, Chrissandra Jacobs, said this week: "We lit candles and we had a prayer meeting. Even the detectives who helped were there. Hundreds of people arrived."
For the rest of her life, Jacobs will remember "the moment when I saw my daughter for the last time" and the harrowing 10-day search which ended with her daughter's body being found rolled inside a carpet in a shed.
"There is nothing more we can do about it. We just have to learn to live with the pain of her death. It [his sentence] won't bring her back, but it brings a little bit of closure," said Jacobs.
On the Friday of her disappearance, Rene-Tracy left her home in Lavender Hill to buy a packet of chips and fetch her little sister from a créche.
Plaatjies was waiting for her with a plastic bag to put over her head and a spade to hit her with. Realising his blows had killed her, he bound her hands and feet, rolled her in a carpet and hid her at the home he shared with his girlfriend.
"He knew Rene's routine. He was a friendly person who knew everyone's backgrounds and everyone's stories," said Jacobs.
Lucinda Evans, head of the Lavender Hill women's organisation Philisa Abafazi Bethu, said she would never forget hearing "running footsteps and someone shouting 'Lucinda, help!'"
Barefoot, she drove to the Jacobs home and stopped nearby to put on her socks and shoes. A friendly man came out of his house and said: "You can park here, no problem." That was Plaatjies.
Over the next 10 days, she slept three hours a night, until a call came in about the body. "When I got there, 1,000 people were in the road."
The community raised money for a DNA test which showed the body was Rene-Tracy's.

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