A woman was brutally executed on the grounds of a mosque – just metres from her home.
Janine Philander’s attacker didn’t care that he was taking her life on holy ground when he struck in the early hours of Monday morning.
Her heartbroken mother’s wailing pierced the balmy air outside the Blue Downs Mosque moments after a passerby discovered the 22-year-old’s body.
And while police don’t know exactly how she died, those on the scene believe Janine may have been strangled to death.
The girl was last seen leaving her home in Hillcrest, Eersterivier just a stone’s throw from the mosque, in the early hours of Monday morning.
It’s believed she went out looking for a cigarette but never made it back home.
Speaking to the Daily Voice at the scene a short distance from where her body still lay, her brother Chris Philander, 35, says the family is still in the dark about what happened.
“Someone just came to the house and told my mother that a girl was found dead at the mosque and it looks like Janine,” he whispers.
Chris admits his sister smoked dagga but says she was not involved in any gang activity.
“She doesn’t have a boyfriend and she didn’t mix with any gangs,” he says.
“We still don’t know what caused her death or who did this to her.”
A woman who didn’t want to be named says this is the second murder in the area in the last few days.
“Just a few days ago a man was stabbed right across the road and today it’s this murder,” she says.
Meanwhile, religious and community leaders in the Blue Downs and Eersterivier areas are expected to meet this week following the discovery of Janine’s body at the mosque.
Janine’s distraught mother Cornelia Philander, 59, and her sisters sobbed uncontrollably as her body was loaded into the mortuary van nearly five hours after the shocking discovery.
Her older sister Isobel cried as she held tightly onto the railing of the mosque’s gate while her younger sister was comforted by a male friend.
Cornelia, who was too emotional to speak to the media, at first refused to leave the scene when she was asked to accompany police officers to Kleinvlei Police Station.
She later insisted on going home and refused to see a counsellor at the station.
“Nee, ek is OK. Ek gaan nerens nie. Ek gaan huis toe, (No, I’m okay. I am not going anywhere. I am going home.)” she cried as she was comforted by her son.
Shortly after 10am, the family slowly walked away from the scene to their home while still comforting each other.
The Daily Voice later caught up with the grief-stricken family at their home.
While their mother kept busy inside their house, Janine’s older sister Isobel explains her sibling was a quite, loving person who caused no trouble.
“She was a loving person and she would never look for any trouble with anyone, she was always very friendly and a lot of people knew her,” she says.
Isobel says Janine spent Sunday afternoon with the family.
“She seemed fine on Sunday, she even did the cooking,” Isobel adds.
“After that she was wandering around the house as she always loved doing.
“She left the house very early [yesterday morning] because she was going to look for a cigarette.
“Then later someone came to tell us she was laying at the mosque.”
Police spokesperson Warrant Officer November Filander says an inquest docket has been opened.
“No visible marks were found on her body and the cause of death is still unknown at this stage,” he says.
Meanwhile, a fearful worshipper at the mosque says: “It was the first time that something this tragic happened at the mosque.
“We are all meeting on [Monday] to talk about the crime in the community.”