By Sonja Smith | 11 February 2022
SHANNON Wasserfall’s mother, Poppy, clearly remembers her daughter promising to save her from poverty, build her a big house, and to relocate her to Canada.
But Poppy has been left heartbroken.
It is a Sarturday morning and the mother, who has not spoken to the media since Shannon’s death in April 2020, is overcome by emotion.
“I have lost my daughter, and I’m hurt. She would have given me a better life. To tell you the truth, my life has now been cut into two pieces from the day Shannon went missing,” she says.
Poppy describes her relationship with Shannon as a bond between sisters.
She switches between Afrikaans and English, but her grief knows no limits.
“She was a visionary and would tell me ‘Mom, just hold on, I’ll finish school, I will go and come back for you, you will smile. This shack I will build for you, and give it to my big sister. I will take you out of this life and take you to Canada’.”
It was Shannon’s dream to help her start a new life in Canada, Poppy says.
Born on 10 June 1998 at Walvis Bay as Shannon Ndatega Kandali Wasserfall, Poppy describes how excited she was about her daughter’s birth.
Shannon was a bright child, she says.
She was awarded the overall best pupil in grades 1 and 2 at Tutaleni Primary School, which saw the Namibian Ports Authority (Namport) sponsoring her with stationery.
“I thought it would be an ordinary certificate. To my surprise she was awarded the overall best in Grade 1, and again the year thereafter. I was in a state of shock. I wasn’t expecting it from her, because she was a talkative girl,” Poppy says.
Shannon was also a curious child, she says, who liked asking questions.
“She used to come home late from school. I would often have to follow up on her to see if she was safe, and I would eventually find her with her teacher, asking questions. She always wanted to know how and why things were the way they were,” Poppy says.
At eight years old, Shannon moved to Windhoek with her father, Tega Mathews. She was enrolled at Emma Hoogenhout Primary School and later at Dawid Bezuidenthout High School.
History teacher Kauko Amakutsi describes Shannon as a kind person who always wanted to improve.
He says she would walk up to him after an average performance in a test and ask for a second chance.
“She would say ‘sir, can you give me another test, this one I did not perform well, and I want to have a good academic assessment’. So, I would give everyone who didn’t perform well a second test,” Amakutsi says.
“At the end of the year, she promised to give me an A in history. At the end of that year, she gave me a B. She always wanted to do good.”
LOOKING FOR ANSWERS
Although the case is still pending in the Walvis Bay Magistrate’s Court, Poppy wants an apology and wants to know what happened to her daughter. Both the accused, Azaan Madisia and her brother Steven Mulundu, through their lawyer Abert Titus this week declined to be interviewed.
Titus said he would comment once the case has run its course in the courts.
Shannon’s former boyfriend, Petrus Shoopala, also declined to comment.
Shoopala has since complained to the media ombudsman about an earlier article in The Namibian detailing a confession by Madisia which claims he was involved in a love triangle with Shannon and Madisia.
Shoopala said he was a victim, and that community members wanted to assault him. But Poppy wants to understand – especially after a letter was leaked to The Namibian, detailing an apology Shannon’s friend made to Shoopala for an alleged fight with Shannon, which resulted in her death.
“I have never heard from the accused’s family. The first time I saw them face to face was at the courts.
“They never came to us. You know when someone commits such an offence they ask for forgiveness, because no one sends their child to become a murderer or a thief, but as a mother, I feel Azaan’s family owes me an apology,” Poppy says.
She says she wants answers from Madisia and Mulundu.
She needs to understand why Shannon’s son, Junior, will now have to grow up without a mother.
“If we argue and I push you and you fall, I’m supposed to go look for help. There were people inside her house: her mother, aunt and the uncle who sweeps outside every day. Where was he? She [Azaan] was supposed to call the police or the ambulance if she’s innocent,” Poppy says.
She does not believe it was an accident, she says.
“One can’t have an accident and keep quiet for six months, and then you go bury her. How was it an accident?”
A FATHER REMEMBERS
Mathews have also been left with haunting questions.
Mathews recently shared with The Namibian how Shannon used to be his ‘handbag’, and that his 22-year-old daughter wanted to be a journalist.
“Everywhere I would go she was always with me. Whether I go to the northern part of the country, whether I go to Windhoek to visit my mother, she came with me,” he said.
“At the time of her birth, I was one of those guys at Walvis Bay who were always seen outside washing nappies.”
Mathews, a well-known former unionist, says he mostly misses Shannon’s laughter.
“Shannon was always laughing out loud. You would hear her laughs from the kitchen. She loved singing, she connected so well with music. You would see the joy on her face when she sang,” he said.
“My sister and I were busy raising funds for her to go study journalism abroad at a university which had admitted her.”
Mathews received an anonymous message in October 2020 directing him to where his missing daughter’s remains could be found.
“The message was full of spelling errors. You could clearly see the person is trying to show they cannot write well or express themselves well in English,” he said.
He said his daughter was not a violent person.
“She would not hurt anyone. She was not a violent person. She [Madisia in the letter] talks about wine. My daughter was not a wine drinker. She preferred ciders,” he said.
“I believe a lot of information still needs to be shared. I want the justice system to speed up the process so that we can get closure. If one has committed a crime of such magnitude, justice must be served,” Mathews said.
Poppy says she will never find closure until the accused tells the truth.
“Every morning I go to my child’s grave and ask her to tell me what happened. Why did they kill you? You shouldn’t have died like that. I want to see the accused, maybe they will talk to me,” Poppy says.
“Azaan in particular was a friend of Shannon’s. She would come here. She must forgive herself. I will never get closure unless she speaks the truth. They didn’t argue about alcohol. The whole truth must come out,” she says.
Madisia was arrested late in 2020 after Shannon’s remains were found in a shallow grave close to Dunes Mall at Walvis Bay. She is facing four charges: murder, defeating the course of justice, fraud, and theft. Mulundu faces two charges: murder and defeating the course of justice, because he allegedly assisted Madisia to hide Wasserfall’s remains.
He handed himself over shortly after his sister’s arrest.
Both have pleaded not guilty to the charges against them. They have been detained at the Narraville Police Station since their arrests.
The case has been postponed to 3 March.