18 years on, family find strength in faith
IT HAS BEEN 18 years since the disappearance of four-year-old Renata Ismail, who was asleep in the main bedroom of her mother’s house in Sarepta, Kuils River.
The petite little girl with black hair disappeared in March 1999 after her mother Heidi had left her in the main bedroom for five minutes.
She then saw an unknown man at the window and left in a hurry to tell her sister in-law about the man.
It is believed he abducted Renata.
It has been a heartbreaking journey for the Ismail family.
Heidi is still extremely emotional when she talks about what happened on that day.
“The news was so devastating and it has affected me deeply. I just pray continuously,” she said.
“I have eternal hope and I find great solace in the grace and promise of God.
“And I know wherever she (Renata) finds herself, she is cared for,” Heidi said.
She has been a teacher for many years and has taught at local schools around Kuils River. She said it had taken a very long time for her to accept that her daughter was not with her.
“She may not be with us, but God is always with her,” she said.
She was reluctant to talk to the media at first.
“I used to do what the media wanted, and then afterwards I would have to pick myself up again. That’s how painful it is for me,” she said.
Heidi said faith and prayer had kept her going throughout the years, as had the support and love of her family and friends.
“We’re so blessed, irrespective of what happened, and we have many painful days still… as if it happened yesterday,” she added. “But we have the support of family and friends, and that’s heart-warming.
“God has been so good to me… And through all the madness I will keep holding on, because nothing is in vain when you have faith,” she said.
“Suffer little children… to come unto me: for of such is the kingdom of heaven.”
Renata Ismail, of Kuils River, has been missing since March 28, 1999.