26 June 2019

South Africa: Delft Man Found in Eswatini, 6 Years After Being Thought Dead, to Be Brought Home

Six years ago, Jane Daniels went from hospital to hospital, police station to police station and morgue to morgue, trying to find her mentally challenged son, Denzil, who had disappeared without a trace.

After not finding him, Denzil's family held a memorial service for him and made peace in their hearts that somehow he had died and would never be found. And then last Tuesday, Jane got a call that changed her life.

"Denzil is alive."

He was alive and in eSwatini (Swaziland), she was told, much to her shock.

The chairperson of the Delft Community Policing Forum (CPF), Pastor Charles George, who is coordinating efforts with the Daniels family to get him back home, spoke to News24.

"I found out about the case last Tuesday when Warrant Officer Brian Daniels, Sergeant Farou and Denzil's mother approached me and told me the story," said George.

Hamstrung by financial constraints

The two police officers have also made the extraordinary offer to, in their private capacity, go to the border of eSwatini and collect him. They are, however, hamstrung by financial constraints.

"Denzil is doing well, I am in constant communication with the Swazi police. He is in one of their holding cells, not because he committed a crime but because they saw him at a supermarket scratching in bins and they could see that he had some mental disorder."

George said Denzil's mom, a pensioner, was not doing well.

"When she was contacted and spoke to him over the phone, with regards to where he is being held [at the Swazi police station], she was just kind of in shock because she couldn't believe he was still alive. She's a pensioner and the family needs financial support."

Sponsored trip, welcome home plans

Humanitarian organisation Gift of the Givers has stepped in to help pay for the trip to bring Denzil back home.

Spokesperson Ali Sablay said the family would be embarking for eSwatini on Thursday and will return home over the weekend. A welcome party for Denzil will be planned for next week.

George, meanwhile, said it had been a complicated process trying to get Denzil home.

"The police took his mom and youngest brother to Home Affairs because Denzil had disappeared with all his paperwork, which included his ID. He always carried it around with him because of his mental condition.

"Home Affairs was not very helpful because it was a bit of a problem trying to get a copy of his ID. There is, however, a missing person's report with the police that was opened six years ago. From Home Affairs' side, it wasn't a good experience for the mom."

Challenges

The Home Affairs branch in Bellville has not responded to a request for comment, which was made on Monday.

Nelson Kgwete, the media liaison officer for the Department of International Relations and Cooperation (DIRCO), told News24: "The South African High Commission in Mbabane, eSwatini, has not been made aware of the case of Mr Denzil Daniels. The family is advised to contact the high commission or DIRCO's consular service section about the details as contained in this link."

Unfortunately for Denzil, he will be returning to South Africa only to receive the sad news about his father and brother who have since died.

"Denzil is not aware that both his father and brother died about two years ago. So there is going to be some kind of a trauma that he will experience all over again", said George.

News24

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