The mother of a Kimberley girl who went missing nine years ago talks about what happened when she met a woman who looks just like her missing daughter.
The grief over her only daughter’s disappearance on 21 February 2010 drove Mpho Moshoeshoe (53), a teaching specialist from Kimberley, into a spiral of depression and addiction.
At night, she’d sit in front of the TV, unable to sleep. She felt the sleeping tablets she was taking were the only thing keeping her sane. Though a man who might have had something to do with the kidnapping was eventually arrested, she didn’t have answers and kept believing her daughter, Rehana Kwena Moshoeshoe (then 15), was still live.
Then came a call two months ago. Someone had met a homeless young woman in the Pretoria CBD who looked exactly like Rehana.
The well-spoken homeless woman had made an impact on this person and she remembered her again when, not long after their meeting on the streets, she coincidentally saw a pamphlet for the missing Rehana which had recently been distributed again on social media. This woman was struck by the resemblance between the two young women and managed to contact an old school friend of Rehana’s from Kimberley Girls’ High School.
This friend got in touch with Mpho who informed her about the woman’s chance meeting with a girl who looked just like her long-lost daughter.
Mpho didn’t waste a moment and in August she met, Candice Modisenyana (22), who’s known on the streets as Karabo.
“The resemblance was overwhelming – almost every feature: the eyes, the high forehead. I couldn’t stop staring at her. But I didn’t want to get too excited. I asked her, ‘Do you know me? Where are you from’?”
At the time of Rehana’s disappearance, Frans Olifant (then 38), was arrested in Lichtenburg. There had been text messages between him and Rehana on his phone that he couldn’t explain. He was found guilty and sentenced to 36 years in prison for kidnapping, as well as other crimes including rape, arson and theft.
Rehana’s body was never found and Mpho went to see Olifant in prison but got no closer to the truth.
The young woman Mpho met in Pretoria looked exactly like Rehana, but the mom soon realised she didn’t sound like her. Karabo’s voice was much deeper, and her background far removed from the Northern Cape.
“No, she didn’t recognise me. She told me she’s from Klerksdorp, that she’s adopted . . .”
Mpho and Rehana’s brother, Hussein (28), returned home without their Rehana.
“I had so much hope when we drove there,” Hussein says. “I believed when we drove home, Rehana would be with us. But we lost Rehana, then found her and lost her all over again.”
Two weeks after Mpho met Candice (Karabo), Mpho found out Candice had also appeared on the well-known Afrikaans magazine programme when they visited the homeless in Pretoria earlier this year. In this insert, which was posted on YouTube in May, one can again see the uncanny resemblance. Karabo is seen telling Kwêla in fluent Afrikaans she was an adopted child who grew up with a white couple. But after the couple divorced, she eventually ended up on the streets.
Pictures of Karabo as a teenager also surfaced that seem to disprove that her and Rehana are the same person.
Still, though they doubt the young woman is Rehana, Mpho hasn’t given up all hope. The only thing that can provide a definitive answer is the results of a DNA test – for which they could wait weeks or even months.
“I’m trying to stay calm. I don’t want to get depressed again. I’m ready for everything and anything, no matter the outcome [of the tests],” Mpho says.
On the morning she disappeared, Rehana had left home to go to town. She’d wanted to buy an outfit to wear to the Lira concert she had tickets for the following week. But her family never saw her again.
“I just want my daughter back. It doesn’t matter where she is or what happened – we’ll get her back on the right path,” Mpho says. “Sometimes when I pray, I tell God, ‘It’s too dark. Please let there be light’.”
Not a day goes by that the family doesn’t miss Rehana. “She was a bubbly person. She was good with people and easy-going – a lot like Karabo.”