Agony of false hope for Palesa's family

FEAR and temporary relief - at the same time. That was what the family of missing University of Johannesburg student Palesa Madiba went through this week as they were called to identify a body at the Hillbrow government mortuary.

The body of an unidentified woman was found in the courtyard of the Legae Gardens block of flats in Newtown, central Joburg, last Saturday.

Police said the woman was aged between 20 and 25.

Madiba, who has been missing for a month, is 20.

"Guaranteed it's not her," said a relieved Thabiso Tsoledi after viewing the body at the mortuary this week.

Tsoledi is Madiba's cousin and the family's spokesman.

Sunday World, with the help of the police, had arranged for Tsoledi to identify the body.

"I see this in a different light now; it gives me hope that she's still alive.

"I've got a strong feeling that she is still alive," he said.

This comes three weeks after Madiba's mother, Khosi Galesitwe (43) told Sunday World that she feared her daughter might have been killed.

Madiba went missing after spending the Women's Day long weekend at her friend's home in Phiri, Soweto.

She left Tshidi Mkhwanazi's home on the Monday morning, but never reached the university's Soweto campus where she was to attend classes.

Mkhwanazi (22) told Sunday World this week that it had been difficult for her since her friend's disappearance.

"It's frustrating. The days are passing and still she is not here. Where can she be? Every day I wish that she would come back home."

Mkhwanazi, who works for an insurance company in the west of Joburg, said she and Madiba had known each other since 2007, but it was only in 2009 that they really started becoming close friends.

"She's been coming to sleep over at my house and I've also spent weekends at her home. She's been like a sister to me."

Police spokesman Lieutenant-Colonel Lungelo Dlamini said: "She hasn't been found, but there's a team of people busy searching for her.

"The investigating officer is being assisted by a team of people."