Sandra November kisses the photo of a bushy-haired girl perched on her bedside table every night before she goes to sleep.
“She turns 7 next Sunday,” she says with a sad smile.
“I hope whoever has her, makes the day special. She loved it when people made a fuss over her on her birthday.”
Shasha Lee went missing four months ago.
The 6-year-old was last seen playing metres from her Groenel Walk home late that afternoon.
For days after her disappearance, groups of locals walked the streets in search of the little girl, affectionately known as Meisie.
No trace of her has yet been found.
Yet, while the neighbours’ search slowly petered out, Sandra and her daughter Jasmine Harris refuse to stop looking for Shasha.
“We have kept walking through the surrounding fields and informal settlements in case we spot her,” Jasmine said.
However, two weeks ago Sandra suffered a stroke which has left her confined to a wheelchair.
“As soon as I can walk, we have to start looking again,” she insists, wringing the hands of which she now has limited use.
Her friend Georgina Harris believes the stroke was caused by the “hell” Shasha’s disappearance has put her mother through.
“Since she went missing, there have been people pointing fingers at both her parents as suspects. These rumours include they know exactly where their daughter is. How cruel and hurtful. What kind of parent would do that to her own child?” she asks.
Sandra wipes away tears as she listens to Georgina.
“I had nothing to do with it. Nothing,” she insists.
“I don’t care what people say. What they think is not important. I just want to find her. Sy is my kind [she is my child].”
‘I would know if she is dead’
Sandra refuses to even consider Shasha may have been killed.
“I can feel she is still alive. She is out there somewhere. I would know if she is dead.”
Jasmine also holds on to the hope her baby sister will be found.
Recently, she said, she and her son had been at an Athlone fast-food outlet when the 2-year-old exclaimed: “Mommy! There’s Nani!”
“My heart caught in my throat when he said that. I turned to where he was pointing and I got tears in my eyes when I saw he was referring to a missing persons poster of Shasha pasted against a wall,” she said.
“He doesn’t understand what happened to her. He had been playing with her in the street that day. He came home and she didn’t.”
‘She never went far from home’
Shasha’s disappearance has also been “very, very difficult” on her husband Calvin, Sandra said.
“He is stronger than me. When I see other children playing in the street, my heart breaks. Shasha loved being outside. She never went far from home.
“I wonder if she is safe … is wearing clean clothes and is well fed. Does she know we are still looking for her?”
When Shasha’s 10-year-old brother asks his mother where his sister is, Sandra ignores him, she admits.
“I don’t know what to say. I know everyone else believes she is dead, but I will not believe that. I will never believe that. Someone will find her.”
Phone Philippi police on 021 690 1500 with any information.