How a curious photographer joined the dots in the hunt for Siam Lee

Siam Lee. The 20-year-old’s burnt body was found in a sugarcane field in New Hanover in the KwaZulu-Natal midlands two days after she was first reported missing
Picture: Siam Lee via Facebook

If it were not for the intuition of a seasoned Tiso Blackstar photographer‚ the fate that had befallen Siam Lee might never have been known.

It was experienced lens woman Jackie Clausen’s curiosity that linked the discovery of a charred body in a sugar cane field in the KwaZulu-Natal Midlands to that of Lee‚ some 132km away from where she had disappeared in Durban North two weeks ago.

The mysterious vanishing of the 20-year-old exposed a secret brothel in a posh Durban neighbourhood. The Crawford College matriculant was last seen outside a house‚ barefoot and in a summer dress. Initial appeals by her family described an “abduction” from the house by a spurned lover.

But TimesLIVE can now exclusively reveal how Clausen’s intuition – along with pure fate – helped police identify Lee’s body.

As appeals for information on Lee gained traction on social media platforms‚ Clausen had been assigned to cover a completely separate case: the bail application of murder accused farmer Philip Solomon in New Hanover.

On the fringes of the court case‚ she overheard the shop talk of two cops shooting the breeze about a grisly scene they had attended several days before.

Familiar with the search for Lee‚ Clausen listened intently‚ her interest piqued by a particular detail – the charred body they found in the field had a lip ring.

Armed with this information‚ and with all of the notes already developed independently on the story‚ the Sunday Times approached the investigating officer.

Had it not been for this connection‚ Lee would likely not have been identified by her family in the days that followed.
Since her body was discovered‚ her mother‚ Carmen Nans Lee‚ was questioned by police and released without charge.

Police spokesman Lieutenant Colonel Thulani Zwane said that no arrests had been made.

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