Unsolved Murders

Nobantu Zani

Age: 15

Sex: female

Date: 16 Sep 1995

Place: Druids Altar, St Ives, Bingley, West Yorkshire

Nobantu Zani was found dead on the moorland above Bingley at a crag known as Druid's Altar.

It was thought that she had been strangled with her own chiffon scarf, but her exact cause of death could not be determined because of the state of her bodies decomposition and an open verdict was returned. Although the coroner said that there was not enough evidence to record a verdict of unlawful killing, a Home Office pathologist said that he still thought that her death was due to strangulation with a ligature and the Bradford police opened up a murder investigation. Her inquest also stated that Nobantu Zani might have died from alcohol intoxication, or from a head injury, both either accidental or deliberate.

When she was found, she was partly decomposed, and her body was covered in branches, and her scarf was tied round her neck.

She was last seen on 16 September 1995 at a party and the police said that they thought that she had died soon after that date, between 16 September 1995 and 20 September 1995.

She was a schoolgirl and was known by the name Mandy and had lived in Bradford in Dirkhill Road with her mother and two brothers.

She came from South Africa and was black. Her mother had come to the United Kingdom with Nobantu Zani and her two other young sons in 1987 as a political refugee. She was a widow of a Pan-African Congress member who had been assassinated in South Africa. Nobantu Zani's father had fought alongside Nelson Mandela's ANC against the apartheid government in South Africa at the time he was shot.

At the time of her murder Nobantu Zani had been leading a double life. It was heard that she had been truanting from school, Buttershaw Upper School in Bradford, and running away. She had runaway several times to stay in the red-light district in Bradford and also ran off to London for a few weeks, and it was thought that she had been working as a child-prostitute. She was also known to hang about in the amusement arcades and cafes in Manningham and Bradford city centre.

Her mother said that she was unable to force Nobantu Zani to go to school and said that when she locked her in the house to stop her going off with the wrong sort of people she climbed out of the window. She said that she even wrote to the social services to ask them to take her in to care but said that they told her that they were not able to do so in the economic climate at the time.

Her mother found out about Nobantu Zani's death shortly after some people came to her home, a terraced house in Bradford. She said that on 30 September 1995 she heard a noise at her door, and first thought that it was Nobantu Zani who had been away with friends for two weeks, coming home. However, she said that she found that it was a policewoman who told her that she was checking for fingerprints, as a burglary had been reported. However, Nobantu Zani's mother said that she hadn't reported a burglary and the policewoman went off. However, the police came back in an hour or so to tell her that they had in fact found the key on Nobantu Zani and had been testing whether it was for that address. They then informed Nobantu Zani's mother that they had found Nobantu Zani dead on the moors.

It was later found that Nobantu Zani had been to school for a total of less than a week between February 1995 and September 1995.

It was heard that Nobantu Zani's mother had thought that Nobantu Zani had gone to stay at a friend’s house near her school on 9 September 1995 and that the friend was going to ensure that she went to school. As such, when Nobantu Zani went missing no one noticed. In fact, it turned out that Nobantu Zani had been seeing a man that ran a brothel in Bradford and her mother said that she thought that her death was tied up with prostitution.

*map pointers are rough estimates based on known location details as per Place field above.