PE family worry over missing daughter

Lee-Anne Butler

A PORT Elizabeth mother is distraught after her teenage daughter left home on Saturday afternoon and failed to return.

The family of Grade 9 pupil Kayla Francis, 17, said they were frantic and just wanted her to return home safely.

Her mother, Karen Francis, said Kayla had called yesterday from an unidentified number to ask that the family drop a complaint against a young man who police had questioned, or she would not return home.

Francis said police had taken the man, who was not known to the family, in for questioning regarding Kayla’s disappearance.

“She has never done anything like this before. I just really want to know where she is. I just want her to come home,” Francis said.

Kayla’s uncle, Basil Schoeman, said the family were desperate for answers. Her phone had been off since late Saturday, he said.

Francis said Kayla, a Westville High School pupil, had left their Salsoneville home with a friend at about 3.30pm on Saturday, saying she would visit another friend and be home by 5pm.

“At about 5.15pm she sent a message to say she would be home in 20 minutes. But by 5.45pm, when she was still not home, I decided to call her, but her phone was off.

“I kept trying and left voice-mails, and then around 7pm her phone was on again but just kept ringing,” Francis said.

She left numerous voice-mails and sent text messages, but Kayla did not respond. At 11.20pm Francis received a text message from Kayla’s phone saying she was safe and Francis should stop calling as she “needed space”.

“I phoned immediately after I received that message, but there was no answer, so I left another voice-mail.”

The next day Francis sent her son, Blaine, to the friends that Kayla had been with, but they denied knowing her whereabouts and said Kayla had returned home after their visit.

Schoeman said: “We went to the police on Monday morning as we had to wait 24 hours before reporting her missing.

“We also went to her school and they said she had not been to school on Thursday and Friday, although her mother thought she was at school.”

Police spokesman Captain Johan Rheeder said that a case had been opened and police were investigating.

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