Do you know this woman? Her family has been searching for her since 2001

A missing person’s docket has now been reopened at the Benoni Police Station to investigate the disappearance of Desiree “Dessie” Reid, who went missing from Boksburg on January 27, 2000.


Help Benoni police find these missing people

She was 20 years old at the time.

Desiree “Dessie” Reid is wanted by her family.

The South African Community Crime Watch has been instrumental in the ‘cold case’ being reopened.

The non-profit organisation will create awareness of the disappearance of Reid and investigate the case, alongside the police.

Speaking to the City Times, Reid’s sister Janetta Joao, said her sibling started dating a man whom she met in Boksburg. He owned a business next to the shop where she worked.

They later got engaged and moved to Turffontein.

Joao said the fiance dropped her sister off at her mother’s Boksburg home one night.

It was later discovered that her sister and partner were using drugs.

“We put her in a rehabilitation centre and she came out just before Christmas in 1999,” said Joao, who lives in Boksburg.

“Everything was going well and we spent Christmas together.”

Have you seen this woman? This photo was taken from a video which was recorded on Christmas day, in 1999.

On January 27, Reid’s mother who is also also named Janetta, left her daughter to sleep in the flat while she went grocery shopping.

“When I got there at about lunchtime to have lunch with my mom, there was no one at home,” Joao said.

“So I went in and I waited for my mom.

“When my mom came home she asked where my sister was, and I said I thought she was with her because there was no one there.”

The mother and sister thought Reid may have gone to her father, Nick Reid, with whom they had no contact.

Only a year later did they report Reid missing, after the pair bumped into the father who said he hadn’t seen his daughter in a year.

“Then it completely sunk in,” said Joao, adding: “We were really so stupid.”

She said they were ignorant and did not know what to do when somebody goes missing.

In 2003, Reid called her aunt (Betty Kruger) and asked to speak to her.

Her uncle Barney Kruger said she was not there. Reid dropped the call.

“She then called a little bit later and asked if she could speak to my aunt, and my uncle said: ‘If you tell me who it is, I’ll tell you what happened.’”

The missing woman identified herself.

Joao’s uncle said: “Your mom is looking for you, your sister is looking for you, they are very worried and your aunt has passed away.”

Joao said: “She cried a little bit and asked how I was, if I was married, if I had kids, and they spoke a little bit, and when he hung up, he phoned my mom. My mom called me at work and I rushed to get my mom from work.”

During this time, Reid had called her mother’s work and asked to speak to her, but she was not in, something Joao still regrets to this day.

Joao said she believes her sister tried to speak to their aunt as she mentioned that she was pregnant with twins.

“I think that was the reason she called my aunt, because my aunt had twins.”

A while later, Reid phoned another aunt, Hester Wright, at work. She told her that she had a miscarriage and that she was at the Waterfront in Cape Town.

That is the last the family heard of Reid.

Emotional and physical heartache

“I have searched every Desiree Reid on Facebook, I have sent friend requests to everyone with that name, I have sent messages to all of them, saying: ‘If it is you and you don’t want to see us, it’s fine, but I have never had any response,” said Joao.

They have also run searches at home affairs, and done ID, Fica and Rica checks.

The uncertainty has tormented Joao and her mother, with her mother’s physical and mental health taking a toll.

The mother has suffered several breakdowns and was diagnosed with breast cancer, which resulted in her having a double mastectomy.

“The psychiatrist dealing with my mom said that we must have a funeral,” said Joao. Really? Could you have a funeral? You know there is no body in that casket, could you have a funeral? You can have a funeral, but tomorrow when you lay in your bed you will know there was nothing in that casket.”

Joao said searching for her sister has ruled her life for the past 17 years.

She hung onto a job for 18 years because she knew that if her sister wanted to make contact, she would know where she worked.

Her mother now works at the company after Joao left at the end of last year.

She said her mother works there to keep busy and to keep the chance alive that if Reid wanted to make contact, she would call the business.

Before moving from their Boksburg home, the mother would place a note on the door every time she left the premises, which read: “Hi, Desiree, if you come home, please stay, or just leave us a note saying that you are still okay. Don’t leave without letting us know you are okay.”

The mother and daughter light a candle every year on Reid’s birthday, on July 24.

Negative reaction from the public

Joao said many people on social media have trivialised Reid’s life, citing her addiction to drugs as reason for her disappearance.

“We are people who love her,” she said.

“It does not take our pain away because she made a mistake to do drugs.

“It does not make it easier for us.

“People make mistakes.”

Where do begin searching

Wendy Pascoe of the South African Community Crime Watch will investigate the case.

She said Interpol will be notified and they will investigate the possibility of Reid being a victim human trafficking.

She will also interview people of interest who were close to Reid.

A nine-year-old’s letter to her aunt

Joao’s daughter, Alyssa Joao, recently wrote a letter to her missing aunt.

Alyssa Joao (9) wrote this letter to her aunt, Desiree “Dessie” Reid, who has been missing since January 27, 2000.

This is what she wrote: “Dear, Desiree. Now that you’re gone, I don’t know what to do, but I’ll tell the truth: we really miss you. I will tell you a story now that is it true, but before I do, I must tell you that we will always love you. We really do care for you, please believe me and know that it is true. Oh, Desiree, if you are still out there, please come back home then we’ll chill and won’t be alone.”

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Kevin van der List

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