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Cops probe student’s death


“We were concerned because we could not get hold of her on Saturday and wanted to ensure that she was doing fine, as she was in a completely new environment.”

THE MODDERRIVIER police have opened an inquest into the death of a 17-year-old Sol Plaatje University student, Justine Oliphant.

Oliphant, who was a Bachelor of Education first-year student, died during the early hours of Monday morning last week at her home in Ritchie after her family had fetched her from the university on Sunday.

She was buried this past Saturday in Ritchie after the university held a memorial service for her on Thursday.

Police spokesperson Lieutenant-Colonel Dimakatso Mooi said that the circumstances surrounding Oliphant’s death are still unclear.

Oliphant’s grieving family suspect foul play.

Oliphants’ mother, Jessica, has called for a full investigation into her daughter’s death and for arrests to be made.

“It was only her second week on campus after she finished her matric at Rietvale High School in 2019. She was still fragile,” sobbed Jessica yesterday.

According to the mother, family members went to check on Oliphant on Sunday, February 16 and returned home with her because she did not look well.

“We were concerned because we could not get hold of her on Saturday and wanted to ensure that she was doing fine, as she was in a completely new environment.

“We had to search for her on Sunday and eventually spotted her getting out of her friend’s car.

“Inside the car there were two of her friends from Ritchie, one of whom is a police officer.

“She looked very confused and edgy, with a recent stab wound in her arm, and told us that she had lost her cellphone and her student card,” explained Jessica.

According to Jessica, her daughter could not enter her residence as she did not have her student card.

She said that upon their arrival in Ritchie, the same car that had dropped her daughter off at the university was waiting at the corner of their street and the occupants handed Oliphant her student card.

Jessica said that they went to bed and were awoken later when her daughter started convulsing.

“There was foam coming out of her month and an ambulance was called, while I rushed to the police station to try get us help quicker. One police officer volunteered to escort us to meet the ambulance halfway.”

“But when the paramedics tried to put her on the stretcher they realised it was already too late.”

The mother described Oliphant as a person who loved life but was used to adult supervision.

She added that her daughter would phone her during the day and at night before she went to sleep.

The family felt compelled to call for an investigation after the autopsy revealed that the cause of death was an overdose.

The family expressed disappointment in the manner in which they were apparently treated by the police when they went to open a case at the Modderrivier police station.

“The officer asked me what case I wanted to open and I asked for her advice. She told me that the ‘deceased’ was the one who was supposed to open a case and that I must go home to fetch the box of the missing phone in order for her to capture the IMEI number. When I returned with the box she told me that she cannot add anything else to my statement because the docket was taken to Kimberley.”

The Sol Plaatje University has sent condolences to the family, friends and classmates of Oliphant.

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