More than two decades later and police are no closer to solving the case of a baby who simply vanished.
It’s been 23 years and Junice Adams’ heart still aches for her little girl. She clings to the hope that her daughter, Veronique, who was kidnapped when she was 11 months old, is alive. Veronique was just days away from celebrating her first birthday when she was abducted on March 6, 1989, allegedly by the nanny from the Adams family home in Eldorado Park, Johannesburg. When Junice returned from work later that day, she found the house in a shambles, the nanny gone and Veronique missing. Her other two children – Veronique’s identical twin sister, Veronisha, and their older sister, Melissa, then aged five – were found alone and unharmed in the lounge.
“When my husband, Jacobus, and I, found out we were having twins we were over the moon. Our daughter, Melissa, also couldn’t wait for the arrival of her sisters,” says Junice. “My pregnancy went well and, on March 29, 1988 the twins were born. Although they were identical, from the very first moment I held them in my arms, I could tell them apart. Finally, our family was complete. We couldn’t have been happier.” But the family’s happiness would prove to be short-lived.
“I was working for a computer company and had employed a live-in nanny, Beauty Mkwanazi, to take care of my girls during the day,” explains Junice. “Beauty told me she was originally from Pietermaritzburg and had two children of her own. She said she had left her ID book at home but that she would collect it for me to copy when she returned from the Easter weekend. She had only been working for me for two weeks when Veronique went missing.”
Junice’s brother, Nolan Ferreira, stayed three streets away and worked nights. Every morning when he came home, he would pop in to the house to check on the children. “At 10h00 that particular day Nolan phoned and asked me if I had sent Beauty to the clinic or shop with Veronique. When I said no, he said I must come home immediately as Veronique was missing.
I immediately phoned the police but was told I couldn’t open a docket and had to wait 48 hours. In desperation, I phoned a number of other stations and eventually got hold of the Proteas Police Station in Soweto. Two officers arrived at the house but by then more several hours had passed since Veronique disappeared. She has been missing ever since.”
Junice explains from the start, the investigation was slow. “There was a school a few blocks from where we lived and on the day Veronique disappeared, I was standing at the gate when some of the pupils walked past. One of them said that at about 15h00 that afternoon, they were walking home from school and saw a woman with a suitcase and baby and asked if they could help her, but she refused. Beauty must have still been in the area when I was trying to get the police to take the matter seriously. I believe that if the police had acted more promptly on that day, Veronique’s kidnapper might have been caught and my daughter found,” she says.
The biggest lead in the case came in 1994. “I had to open another docket at Jabulani Police Station (where the Child Protection Unit was located) because the police couldn’t find the first docket, and that’s when I met Captain Vertue. When I told him my story he started investigating and found there was a girl who resembled Veronique living in a village in Botswana. He flew with me and Veronisha to Botswana.
We first went to the Botswana Police Station and from there we went to Ramotswa village – the residence where the child who resembled Veronisha lived. Blood tests were taken but I heard nothing more of the investigation. When I tried to follow up on the blood test results I was told that the captain had died in a car accident four months later and the file with all the evidence and the blood results was gone. The case had once again, gone cold. After that, everything went quiet and died down.” Junice says Veronique’s disappearance has had a massive and devastating impact on the entire family.
“My husband died of a heart attack. My other two children were not able to live normal lives. We never celebrated birthdays, or special occasions – we still don’t. We only ever had one birthday for Veronisha when she turned 21, but knowing that we should have been celebrating two birthdays instead of one made a day that should have been a celebration, heartbreaking.
“I feel so guilty for going to work that morning. I remember when I left Veronisha and Veronique were crying. I wish that I had decided to stay home with them. There are so many unanswered questions as to why my child was taken. Maybe Beauty took Veronique for herself, or maybe she promised someone a child. Maybe she was involved with a baby trafficking syndicate overseas or even locally. I don’t know. I still believe that my child is alive and I’m going to keep searching for her.”
Beauty must have been in her late 20s or early 30s when she worked for Junice. She was medium in height and build, light in complexion and had a tattoo of a mole on her right cheek, and a burn mark on front of one of her legs. Anyone who has seen a young woman who fits the profile of the picture of Veronisha can call Junice Adams on 072 687 5108.
vanished, Veronique Adams, abducted, Junice Adams, identical twin