Article about missing South African girl

I found this article about Mbali Nkosi, a fifteen-year-old girl from Dube, South Africa who vanished without a trace seven months ago. She went to the grocery store and never came back. Later that day her mom, Zodwa, got a (text?) message saying “please call me.” She did, and Mbali said “Mama” and then the line went dead and she was never heard from again. Reminds me of Maria De Los Angeles Martinez. Or Diane Augat.

Mbali’s sixteenth birthday was on February 7. The article says, “Her disappearance has since affected Zodwa, who was admitted at Chris Hani-Baragwanath Academic Hospital.” From that sentence I’m not sure if it was depression or just health problems caused/exacerbated by stress. I checked the hospital website and it doesn’t have a psychiatry/behavioral health department listed. It is, in any case, very sad.

There have been anonymous calls from people saying they saw Mbali, and one wanted 1000 South African rands (about $123) to reveal her whereabouts. Her father arranged to meet up with the man, but he never showed. I looked up her name on Google and found several people with that name, but most of the results weren’t about this Mbali. I did find this article written shortly after her disappearance. She was a Grade 9 student at Orlando West High School in Soweto, and was considering a career in nursing.

It sounds as if Mbali might have been forced into prostitution. I certainly hope not. I know the crime rate in South Africa is very high — as is the HIV infection rate, which Wikipedia says is at 18.10% compared to .60% in America.

12 thoughts on “Article about missing South African girl

  1. kim February 28, 2012 / 2:30 am

    you are the first person to mention Maria de los Angeles Martinez in years. I think that case is forgotten about. No media has done anything on her disappearance for years. I am surprised they have no video tape of men looking at the ads at the radio station. Very scary disappearance maria must have been scared to death.

    • Meaghan February 28, 2012 / 2:40 am

      Unfortunately, her having a name like Maria Martinez makes it pretty difficult to find news articles on her, if there were any. I have the same problem with Andrew Lee Brown, I’d love to find more information on his disappearance but how can I, with a name like that?

    • Diane February 28, 2012 / 3:54 am

      Her case has always fascinated me, even though there’s so little available about it. I know they use her on the NCMEC website as an example of why you never accept babysitting jobs from people you don’t know or who haven’t been thoroughly vetted by you and your parents, but they don’t provide much more information than what’s already on the Charley Project website. I think the only new thing they add is that she sounded panicked or nervous while on the phone, but that’s about it.

      BTW, hers is an example of how things change. Back in the late ’80s, what Ms. Martinez did wasn’t out of the ordinary. Plenty of young people seeking some pocket money would be willing to take babysitting jobs with random people in order to raise that money, and there wasn’t such an emphasis on being thorough with background checks, checking the bonafides of the individual hiring you, etc. I spent a few years in the very late ’80s and very early ’90s babysitting and am fortunate to have done so with people I knew from the neighborhood or from school (well, namely one teacher in particular who was a single parent). But I didn’t really ask questions at the time or felt like I needed to.

      I look back upon that and gasp at how naive we all seemed to be back then. I wonder how developed Phoenix was in 1990. These days it’s a megacity and I’m sure everyone is very wary and street smart when it comes to dealing with unknown individuals, but in 1990 it could’ve just been a sleepy large town where there was this veneer of safety and security. I live in a city (in the same part of the U.S. as Phoenix) with a population of about 1.3 million, but I think our population in 1990 was only about 800,000 and it felt a lot more like an overgrown town back then, whereas these days it feels like a small city.

      Anyway, I wish more information could be revealed about Ms. Martinez — who she was, where she went to school, her friends, where her parents are these days, what happened to them since 1990, whether she had any siblings, why she wanted to take on these babysitting jobs when she was already 17 years old and could’ve taken a simple fast food job (maybe she wanted to be a teacher?), what radio station she used to broadcast her babysitting services, what show aired her advertisement, etc. I wonder if her parents were Mexican immigrants, whether she spoke fluent Spanish or if Spanish was her first language, whether she advertised on a Spanish-language radio station, if the person who preyed on her was also Hispanic, what he looked like, what make and model of vehicle he drove, whether any of Maria’s neighbors witnessed anything, etc. And I wonder how many of these questions will ever be answered or if Maria will ever be found.

      • Meaghan February 28, 2012 / 5:06 am

        You know, I actually know a guy who works in missing persons for the Phoenix PD. He sends me info from time to time. I’ll ask him about Maria.

        I would be surprised if she WASN’T a first- or second-generation Mexican immigrant, given her name and the place where she was living.

      • Diane March 1, 2012 / 11:28 pm

        @Meaghan: Thank you so much for doing that!!! I’d love for more information to be known about the Martinez case because she seems like the exact kind of person to have suffered from zero media interest — being that she was an older teen and a minority — and it’d be nice to get that additional information and the cooperation with her family to distribute additional photos of her and get an age progression working JUST IN CASE. (I mean, I think a lot of people were thinking they were going to find Jaycee Dugard as a series of skeletal remains, but look at what actually happened.)

        As for her generational being — I too wouldn’t be surprised if she were a 1st or 2nd generation native-born American. It would be even more likely IMO that she’d be a 1st generation-er. I’m a 2nd generation-er (my grandparents were born in Mexico and my parents and I were born here) but a more Americanized one, as my grandparents all came over before they turned 18.

        BTW, while you’re at it, could you also ask the Phoenix PD contact of yours if they’ve heard back from Dorothy Mildred Clitheroe’s family as to whether or not they believe the young girl in that one photo of Rodney Alcala’s is her? Thanks!

  2. kim February 28, 2012 / 2:34 am

    my bad her file said she advertised for a job on air. I don’t remember radio stations doing this. People used to put ads up on their bulletin boards and so forth but if she gave her number on air then anyone could have called her.

  3. Princess Shantae February 28, 2012 / 7:24 am

    It isn’t done hardly at all anymore, but there was a light rock station here in Maryland that had a daily segment called the Trading Post. How it worked was, say I wanted to sell something,, there’d be a number to call that was answered by a machine at the station. I’d leave a message like this “Hi, I’m selling four Redskins tickets on the forty yard line for two weeks from this Sunday. I’m asking $100 for them. Call me at 555 1234.” I wouldn’t even have to use my name, and the people at the station would play my message during the Trading Post. Then say Meaghan was listening at lunchtime, b/c that’s when it was, and she wanted the tickets, all she’d have to do is listen for the number to call and cal me directly. Neither one of us would have any contact with anybody at the radio station. They would just make sure the messages that got left had a phone number to call and weren’t obviously prank messages.
    That could be how Maria’s radio station worked.
    In any case I wouldn’t let my daughter advertise for a babysitting job that way, and I would never look for a sitter that way either. The idea that you need to check the other person out works both ways, the person looking for a babysitter needs to check out who they hire too.

  4. Kim February 28, 2012 / 4:02 pm

    You are right Maria’s name is common and that makes it harder. I am so sad regarding her case. Somebody listening to the radio station got to her. My father would have killed me if I gave my number out on the radio. Maria and I are exactly 1 year and 1 day apart. She has a cool birthday..Cindo de Mayo. so sad that there is little publicity on this case and if her parents were here illegally or did not speak english. even more reason for nobody to come forward.

    • Meaghan February 28, 2012 / 4:23 pm

      I sent an email to my Phoenix detective friend, asking about Maria. Got a reply saying he’s out of the office till March 5.

  5. Kim February 28, 2012 / 4:06 pm

    I used to babysit all the time in the 80’s as a teenage but usually I only babysat people I knew, neighbors and referrals. There were several occasions though when I would be babysitting for a single mom and her husband or boyfriend would take me home. That always creeped me out. Thank god I was never harmed.

  6. Princess Shantae February 28, 2012 / 8:13 pm

    My sister hired this teenage girl to babysit for her kids, and after several times she noticed that her clothes were disappearing. She couldn’t be sure when the clothes disappeared, but one night her and her husband came home and the sitter was sleeping on the couch. As she was getting up, the neck of her shirt slid around and Janelle saw her own shirt underneath, and so the whole truth came out there. She drove the girl home and told her she had two minutes to bring down the rest of the clothes she’d taken, and if she wasn’t down by that time she was going to lay on the horn till her parents came down and the whole neighborhood woke up.
    A couple times her husband drove the girl home, and Janelle was very worried that the girl would claim he’d made a pass at her or worse to get back at Janelle for catching her in the act like that. But she didn’t.

  7. Josephine Marie September 14, 2017 / 2:37 am

    Hi i am a friend of the Martinez family can anyone help me get numbers to start calling to get her story brought back to attention

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