A South African woman has been charged with murdering a British grandfather who travelled to see her eight years after another man she met on Facebook went missing.
The woman, Zaheera Boomgaard has been charged with the murder of Jamnadas Harkant Nathvani, 71, whose body was found burned beyond recognition in Walkerville, south of Johannesburg.
Mr. Nathvani, a philanthropist who met Boomgaard on Facebook travelled from India, where he had been on a pilgrimage, to SA to see her in January 2020.
Boomgaard, from Walkerville, Gauteng province, appeared in the Vereeniging magistrate’s court on Monday, and the case was adjourned until November 6 for a formal bail application.
Police spokesperson Col Brenda Muridil said Nathvani landed at OR Tambo International Airport on January 25. On May 6, his family reported him missing when they could not make contact with him in SA.
While he was declared missing, Nathvani’s Facebook account was still active, with posts about how he was fed up with being in Covid-19 lockdown in SA. However, family and friends who dropped comments were skeptical if Mr. Nathvani had written them.
In March, a body was picked up in the De Deur area but was deposited in the morgue for months because it was so badly burned that it could not be identified.
Authorities later made a breakthrough in September and confirmed the body belonged to Mr. Nathvani after matching it to his dental records, his family’s DNA, and Lynette Mustapha’s fingerprints.
“The body was identified by means of fingerprints as Lynette Mustapha. Other evidence on the crime scene was also followed up and helped with the targeted identification process.
“During interviews with the first responders and other witnesses on the crime scene, by the investigation team, valuable information was gathered and followed up. The investigating team did the necessary investigations and that lead to the confirmation that the charred remains found on March 11 were indeed those of Mr Nathvani,” said Muridili.
The postmortem revealed signs of blunt- and sharp-force trauma.
Boomgaard is also charged with murdering her friend, Lynette Mustapha, according to a report in South African publication TimesLIVE. She is also linked to the 2012 disappearance of 83-year-old retired naval engineer John Naisby, who had travelled from Cape Town to Walkerville to meet her after an online romance begun on Facebook.