Mom still hopeful little boy is alive one year after disappearance: ‘I centred my whole life around him’

2019-05-21 12:02
Liyaqat Akeem Mentoor. (Photo: Supplied)

Liyaqat Akeem Mentoor. (Photo: Supplied)

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It's been over a year since he went missing.

The cops believe he was murdered even though the body hasn't been found.

But the mother, Kaylah Mentoor, is still holding on to the hope that her only son may still be alive.

So much time has passed, but the memories of her missing son, Liyaqat Akeem affectionately known as Lee, still live on.  

The road ahead may still be long for Kaylah. However, some days are better than others. And she's learning to smile through her tears.

"Right now, I'm okay," she tells us. "I wouldn't say I'm good but I'm feeling much better than I was before."

What still hurts her the most is that her then-boyfriend Onke Mashinini, was the last person to see Lee alive.

He's now facing charges of kidnapping, child neglect, pre-meditated murder and defeating the ends of justice.

The matter is still ongoing at the South Gauteng High Court.

Kaylah and Lee were living in Onke's house with his parents when the boy went missing in March last year.

Onke was supposed to drop off Lee at Kayla's mom's place in Roodepoort as he was meant to spend the weekend with his grandmother. But that evening Kaylah received a call from her mom asking her where Lee was.

She called her boyfriend, who told her he'd dropped the child off around 1pm with "a relative".

"I knew the story was nonsense. I went to my mom's house and told her Liyaqat was gone," Kayla told YOU last year.

Police found blood in a bathtub in Onke's family home, leading to his arrest.

Liyaqat Akeem Mentoor

Liyaqat Akeem Mentoor. (Picture: Dino Codevilla)In honour of Lee, Kayla is now reading for a Bachelor of Education in foundation phase teaching at the University of Johannesburg. "It's keeping my mind occupied," she says.

The 24-year-old says it's always been her dream to be a teacher and she's happy she's following through with it.

"My original plan was that when he starts primary school, I could follow him and maybe even get a job at his school," she says with a chuckle.

"After the foundation phase, I would've gone to teach the intermediate phase until he was in high school."

Kayla was even a teacher at the nursery school that Lee attended. "I centred my whole life around Liyaqat."

Her journey hasn’t been easy, she admits. "It's difficult because, since I'm learning about kids his age, it just brings memories of him sometimes."

Lee would've been celebrating his fifth birthday next month. And while she's feeling better than before, there are days when Kayla can't cope. She's been seeing a psychologist.

The pressure of varsity, finding Lee and the court case have been "suffocating" her.

Kayla also recently lost her grandmother to cancer.   

"It hit home that if we do find Liyaqat, it means I might have to go through organising his funeral. It (her grandmother's funeral) brought up what could possibly happen."

As tough as it is, Kayla has to prepare for both realities: That he may still be alive or no more, she says.

"I'd be so happy if he's still alive and I'll be more determined to study."

Seeing her ex-boyfriend enrages her.

"I saw him during the last court appearance. I just felt extremely angry because he's sitting there, dressed in a nice suit, Mr Mature Man, his parents not far from where he was, and he was waving at them smiling," she says.

"How do you have a smile on your face when you know something, and you don't want to speak?"

She says she sometimes feels guilty. "I still think I should have done better as a mother even though I feel tried my best."

And it will take her some time to trust men again, she says.

"I know that they're not all the same but it's going to take me a while to even trust a partner."

She and her family have been talking about having a memorial service for Lee.

"I have mixed emotions about it. I want to do it, but I don't want to do it . . . I still believe he's going to be found."

And right now, she just wants some kind of closure.

"My soul isn't going to be happy until I [get] it."

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