The young Kuils River mother found murdered on a farm near Wellington earlier this month was hailed as a hero at her funeral service, at the weekend.
Chantell “China” Matthyssen, 21, went missing on Saturday June 23, after being offered a job as a wine packer on a farm in Wellington by a family friend and the man now accused of murdering her, Johan Williams.
Desperate for a job to provide for her three-year-old son, she left the little boy with her mother and caught a train to Wellington.
Her mother, Carol Petersen, grew suspicious when her daughter did not make contact with her, and Chantell’s stepfather, Jacques Peterson, drove to Wellington on Tuesday June 26 to look for her.
Her body was found under branches on Monday July 2, at 6pm, after her mother visited Wellington police station to report that her daughter’s purse and shoes had allegedly been found in Williams’s lounge.
Police say they arrested Williams on Monday July 2 after he confessed to killing Chantell.
The bodies of two more women have since been dug up in the Wellington area and police are investigating whether Williams is linked to those deaths.
Police spokeswoman Sergeant Noloyiso Rwexana said Williams had been charged with the murder of the 21-year-old mother and would appear in the Wellington Magistrate’s court on Friday July 13.
More than 400 people filled the seats in the Kalkfontein Primary School hall in Kuils River on Saturday to say their final goodbyes to Chantell.
Not a dry eye could be seen as her male relatives carried her caramel-coloured coffin into the church. Pastor Jennifer Visser led the service.
“This might be a bad thing to say or it could be hurtful, but God has a plan and a purpose. Chantell’s death has made her a hero because there are now other women’s bodies who have been found in the same area and their families have finally found closure,” she said.
Many wept as a slide show depicted moments from Chantell’s life, and some laughed through the tears at pictures of her as a girl, posing like a model.
Her mother broke down and was escorted out of the church by people who comforted her.
Nicol Booysen, Chantell’s cousin, delivered the eulogy but was unable to speak for long before being overcome by grief.
“She had a smile that could brighten up your day,” he said.
Community activist Dawn Roode said she agreed that “Chantell has left this earth being a hero”, and described Chantell as a “very bubbly and well organised person”.
“Chantell was well known to the community as China because of her Chinese eyes. She was the centre of joy, she lit up a room with her smile.
“She would find a way to make you smile, and this is why her friends cannot come to terms with it,” she said.
After the service, Chantell’s coffin was carried out of the school hall and placed in the hearse to be carried off for a private cremation.
“Goodbye, my kind,” her mom said, hysterically pulling
at her hair; other members of the family were inconsolable as she spoke.