She may have been robbed of her identity, but she won’t allow the same to happen to her two-year-old son.
So said Aalia Wylie, 23, a Hanover Park woman who was abducted just before her 5th birthday, and reunited with her family after 18 years.
Ms Wylie was born Nthatisi Nyokana, but the man who kidnapped her outside her family home in Mayville, Durban, gave her the name Alice Tshimanga, saying she was his daughter.
Ms Wylie said the man sexually abused her.
When she was 13 years old, he was jailed, and Ms Wylie was placed in foster care with a family in Hanover Park.
Her abductor moved with her in and out of South Africa over the years, and because he said she was his daughter, she was not considered a citizen.
It was when she wanted to write her final matric exams, that social workers informed her that her papers were not in order. Since then, it has been an uphill battle to prove her identity to the Department of Home Affairs.
The young mother got married and embraced Islam, but could not register her two-year-old son’s birth, because her identity was not proven.
In January this year, she shared her story on Facebook and appealed for any information about her biological family. People shared the post, and in August, her brother made contact with her.
Luckily she remembered her father’s first name and her first name.
“Last year, I was extremely upset because I could not register my son. It was really stressful. I could also not finish my matric, because I was told my papers had expired. I explained to Home Affairs that the man who brought me here, disappeared, and they told me I have 30 days to find my biological family. I had no resources and I went there with a social worker.
“When my family saw my Facebook post, my paternal grandmother went to get a copy of my birth certificate. They immediately sent me photos. My mother sadly passed away 12 years ago, but when I look at photos of her, I see a reflection of myself.”
On Sunday September 8, Ms Wylie and her mother-in-law, Fagmiedah Wylie, travelled to Matatiele in the Eastern Cape, to meet her family.
Just before she left, she told the Athlone News how excited she was about meeting her family.
“I have a wonderful foster family. I do feel that man who abducted me did a lot of bad, but along the way I met a lot of good people. I refuse to be a victim. I used to cry about my situation, but I have a great family. I have love and support and I have a great husband.
“I am also extremely excited to meet my family in the Eastern Cape. I wanted to share my story – not just for me but for all those children who went missing. To tell the families to never give up hope of finding their loved ones,” she said.
Her mother-in-law agreed, adding: “At least all hope is not lost. If we keep on hoping, then this might be a triumph for others. The way we grow up should not define who we become. When I met her, I never thought she would become part of my family. She was always so respectful. I used to watch her going to and from school – I always look out for the children in my community. She really impressed me. I loved her from the start, because I love working with children. Now we are kindred spirits.”
The two are hoping to spend a month in the Eastern Cape, and although they secured their transport money, they have appealed for assistance with sustenance. If you can assist, contact Fagmiedah Wylie at 073 453 7527.