Mur­dered nurse’s fam­ily de­mands jus­tice

Body found with se­vere as­sault wounds

The Mercury - - FRONT PAGE - KAILENE PIL­LAY kailene.pil­lay@inl.co.za

THE mother of the 31-year-old nurse, whose badly beaten body was found stuck in a tree at Oribi Gorge near Port Shep­stone, said her fam­ily would only get clo­sure once “my daugh­ter’s cold­hearted killers” were caught.

Nelisa Cele, a reg­is­tered nurse and mother of a 13-year-old son, left her home in Ga­malakhe last Wed­nes­day to pick up her re­cently bought Isuzu bakkie from a dealer near Shel­ley Cen­tre on the KZN south coast. She never re­turned home. Cele’s mother, Babongile, said they had as­sumed she had stayed at her boyfriend’s home. Cele was six months preg­nant with his child.

Speak­ing to The Mer­cury yes­ter­day, a dis­traught Babongile said the fam­ily were in­con­solable.

She said that on Fri­day her grand­son at­tempted to call his mother on her cell­phone but it went to voice­mail.

A nurse, who worked with Cele at the Ga­malakhe Com­mu­nity Health Cen­tre (GHC), also tried to phone when Cele failed to ar­rive.

“That was when we started to panic,” she said. They spread the word in the neigh­bour­hood to help search for Cele but had not ap­proached the po­lice as they were op­ti­mistic she would re­turn home.

How­ever, on Fri­day morn­ing, a keen Jo­han­nes­burg twitcher who had been fol­low­ing birds and tak­ing pho­to­graphs made a grim dis­cov­ery. He had taken a pho­to­graph of what he thought was a bird, then re­alised it was a hu­man body cov­ered with a cloth. He alerted the po­lice im­me­di­ately. It is be­lieved that Cele’s killer may have tried to throw her body off a cliff but it got stuck in tree branches.

“Our worst fears were re­alised when we iden­ti­fied her body. We just re­ceived the post-mortem re­sults that said she died due to bleed­ing in her brain,” Babongile said.

Health MEC Dr Si­bongiseni Dhlomo ex­pressed his deep­est con­do­lences to Cele’s fam­ily. Cele had been a nurse at the cen­tre since 2011.

“The mur­der of a health-care work­ers is al­ways a sad day for us, be­cause th­ese are peo­ple who are tasked to save lives and bring heal­ing to those who are ail­ing,” Dhlomo said.

He called on law en­force­ment au­thor­i­ties to do ev­ery­thing in their power to bring those re­spon­si­ble to book.

Po­lice spokesper­son Colonel Them­beka Mb­hele said a case of mur­der was be­ing in­ves­ti­gated by Paddock SAPS.

Ac­cord­ing to Mb­hele, Cele’s body was found with se­vere as­sault wounds.

“The mo­tive for the killing and the suspects are still un­known. In­ves­ti­ga­tions are still con­tin­u­ing,” she said.

The depart­ment will hold a memo­rial ser­vice for Cele at the Methodist Church next to Ga­malakhe CHC to­day at 1pm.

Cele will be buried on Satur­day.

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