The family of a young Port Elizabeth woman who was murdered before her body was taken to a field and set alight has not yet told her eight-year-old daughter about her mom’s gruesome death – allegedly at the hands of her ex-boyfriend.
Details of the murder emerged during a week-long investigation by detectives from the Motherwell police station. Azintle Feni, 25, was last seen by her family on Saturday June 16, when she told relatives she was going to a party. Her family’s increasingly frantic attempts to contact the young mother – who had reportedly been attempting to complete her schooling at Ndyebo High School in Motherwell – proved futile.
Finally, yesterday, they were told of her horrific death. Feni’s body was found early yesterday after detectives had spent 12 hours interrogating a 26-year-old man police referred to as her boyfriend, but who her family said was an ex-boyfriend. Feni’s charred remains were found in bushes near Chalumna Street which borders the Swarkops River in Motherwell. At 1am the man was arrested and charged for the murder. Detectives believe the motive was jealousy over other men in Feni’s life.
Yesterday, Feni’s shellshocked mother wept as she spoke of her daughter. Thembakazi Jack, 40, said she had spent days searching for Azintle before she received the devastating news.
She said: “My daughter’s death is so painful. What he did to my daughter is so unbearable and cold.”
Jack said she had last seen her daughter as she was preparing to go to a party with her cousin, Andile Feni, 26. She had not returned and on Monday this week her family turned to the police for help.
“Since she left it was difficult for me,” Jack said. “I would wake up every morning and go to bushes, dumping sites, with hope that I’ll find her.”
She said it was difficult to sleep or sit around at home.
“I constantly checked my phone for messages or calls from her. I don’t know how I’m going to tell her little sister and daughter. This is so painful to me, I’m deeply hurt and I so wish that justice can prevail.”
Police spokesman Captain Andre Beetge said as police began looking into Feni’s disappearance, new details had begun emerging, prompting investigators to think she had been kidnapped or murdered.
Initially, a standard missing person inquiry was opened.
“By the time the police were alerted, she had already been missing for nine days. Since the matter surfaced on Monday, detectives began visiting Feni’s relatives and friends in an attempt to establish some sort of timeline or locate her. As the investigation continued, various leads materialised, sending detectives from pillar to post following up,” he said. On Thursday, investigators called relatives, friends and former boyfriends to the police station for interrogation. During the interrogation process, it emerged that she was last seen with a man we now know was her boyfriend. Police tracked him down by midday on Thursday to an address in Motherwell. The suspect was interrogated and detectives searched the house and also an old blue Mazda on the premises.”
Beetge said when the vehicle was searched, bloodstains had been found.
Detectives surmised the car had been used to transport Feni’s body.
“While on the scene, details emerged of a second address, an RDP house that the suspect was known to frequent on a regular basis. It is believed that his friend let him stay in a room at the house sometimes. Detectives tracked down the location of the house and found a mattress inside the second bedroom. Blood splatters and a large pool of dried blood were found on the mattress.”
Beetge said the suspect was interrogated until about midnight by a team of detectives – including the detective commander – before he finally took them to the area where Feni’s body was dumped and burnt.
“He took police deep into the bushes bordering Chalumna Street. Her charred remains were found shortly [afterwards] , ” Beetge said.
Pieces of burnt tyre were also found close to the remains, thought to have been used to burn the body.
“It is suspected that she was not held captive and was killed on that Sunday. At this stage, we do not know what was used to kill her. However, it is safe to say that she was severely assaulted. If a weapon was used, we are still investigating,” he said.
While Beetge would not be drawn on a motive for Feni’s murder, detectives – who asked to remain anonymous as they are not allowed to speak to the media – said they suspected that it was jealousy linked to Feni’s befriending other men.
The suspect is due to appear in court on Monday.