Twenty years after a young woman vanished while attending a children’s party, her family hopes she will find her way back home or get answers about her bizarre disappearance.
This week when Weekend Argus’ Cape Cold Case team visited Wendy Foster’s home in Steamboat Road in Strandfontein, her mother, Elizabeth Foster, 68, grabbed her chest, placed her hand over her heart, in the hopes that we had brought news about her daughter.
“I thought I would hear something about my child,” she said.
Our team soon enough explained the reasons and nature of our visit and was welcomed into the Foster home where relatives such as her sisters and nieces and mother still live.
The family had since done reconstruction, adding a loft and staircase.
“I sometimes wonder whether Wendy will know this is her home because we have made changes, I am always hopeful that she will find her way back home,” said Foster.
Inside the family home stands a photograph of Wendy where she had won a Spring Queen competition while working at a factory.
In June 2001, Wendy, who was 27-years-old, single and unemployed, was keen to find a job.
On the weekend of June 16, 2001, Wendy left her home to attend her friend’s child’s birthday party and was never seen again.
Foster said the family had been told that Wendy had left the house of her friend in Lansdowne that Saturday to return home, but never arrived.
“Wendy was job-hunting and that weekend we knew she was going to sleep over at her friend’s place.
“During that weekend, I received a call from a man who was looking for Wendy about a job opportunity.
“When I called the friend, she informed me that Wendy had left Saturday.
“I did not think anything was wrong because she usually slept with her friend over the weekend,” she said.
Foster visited the friend shortly after the phone call to carry out her own investigation on where Wendy could be.
“I wanted to know whether anyone had accompanied her to the taxi rank. No one had accompanied her,” she said.
Foster explained Wendy had undergone brain surgery while she was in high school and had suffered temporary memory loss at the time, and also had a short temper.
This led her to believe that Wendy may have suffered memory loss after leaving the party.
“She had temporary memory loss then and I thought maybe she got upset and left the party and walked.
“I thought maybe she didn’t know how to find her way back home,” she said.
The family then reported her missing with the assistance of Michelle Ohlsson, of the Concerned Parents of Missing Children.
The family searched morgues and hospitals for a trace of Wendy and also placed flyers around Cape Town.
Soon they received various stories that she had been cited in communities such as Delft.
“I went to report her missing at Strandfontein police station and was initially told that they cannot assist us because she is an adult and to go and find her.
“I was then accompanied by Michelle Ohlsson who helped me to report her missing. We had friends of the family who worked in the burial industry and they helped us to search at Salt River and Tygerberg mortuaries, but there was nothing there.
“We also placed flyers around Cape Town for her and soon we received stories that she was seen in areas such as Delft and even Paarl, but this led to nothing,” she said.
Since her disappearance the family says they have received no feedback from police.
They are still hopeful they will find Wendy.
“My message to my daughter is: ’please come back home, we have never forgotten you’,” Foster said.
The family said Wendy had birthmarks on her back and stomach.
Her niece, Kezia Grobe, 25, who was five at the time of her disappearance, said they often searched social media for answers.
“I would search Facebook with her name thinking maybe she would have an account and we would look on groups Track n Trace or even on our own Facebook pages, we would place her photograph there hoping maybe she will see it,” she said.
Ohlsson, whose son, Matthew Ohlsson was nine when he vanished in March 1997 in Mitchells Plain, said they assisted the family emotionally.
“We were part of the support system for the family and provided personal counselling,” Ohlsson said.
Police spokesperson, Captain FC van Wyk said police had searched the archives at Strandfontein Police station on records of her case and have diverted it to Landsdowne for feedback as nothing could be traced at Strandfontein.