Welcome to Unsolved Murders SA, a podcast series where we will be delving into gruesome homicide investigations that, at the time of producing the episodes, were still open.
The objective of this series is to keep the stories of the forgotten alive and, hopefully, help spark a memory for anyone listening in with intimate knowledge of the cases.
The views, information, or opinions expressed in this series are solely those of the individuals involved and do not necessarily represent those of Swisher Post, its parent company and partners.
Some of the content featured in this series describes details of extreme violence. Therefore, viewers’ discretion is strongly advised.
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Unsolved Murders SA: Background on Susanna ‘Soekie’ and Melissa Jacobs
Susanna ‘Soekie’ Jacobs and her daughter Melissa were residents of Fish Hoek, a seaside community on the far east side of the Cape Peninsula.
Between the 1st and 3rd of November 2021, both women left friends and relatives in utter shock when their dead bodies were discovered in separate locations.
Susanna was a 59-year-old mother of three, two daughters Natasha and Melissa, and her only son Shaun. Shaun, passed away sometime between late July and early August 2014. While the circumstances of his death are unknown, Susanna, at the time, kept her Facebook friends abreast on her son’s condition and after a valiant fight, Shaun died at the Netcare Union Hospital in Alberton, Gauteng.
Melissa, who was aged 26 at the time of her death, was very close to her brother. By observing her archives on social media, it was clear that his untimely passing had adversely affected her.
Before moving to Cape Town, she, Shaun and their mother Susanna lived in Alberton. Melissa completed her primary education at Laerskool Generaal Alberts and attended Marais Viljoen High School where she befriended Sheri Ferreira, who described her as a fun, loving person with an affectionate laugh.
In an interview with YOU Magazine, Sheri described the close relationship Melissa had with her mother. They always greeted each other with three kisses and said ‘I love you’. Reflecting on their mother-daughter bond, Sheri said:
“They always said it, even if one of them was just popping to the shops. Their bond is something that really stood out for me. We were like Auntie Soekie’s children in that home.”
It is unclear what motivated Susanna and Melissa to relocate but in 2019, the mom and daughter started afresh in Fish Hoek, where they lived in a small cottage.
Details on investigation of Susanna Soekie and Melissa’s deaths
Life in Fish Hoek was everything Soekie and her daughter had wished for. The sounds of the waves crashing along the docks, the bustling noise of the community on Wednesdays, when fishermen docked their boats with fresh catch, the ever-present smell of sea life that lingered in the atmosphere.
For Soekie, moving to Fish Hoek must have been a dream come true. However, a haunting nightmare would befall the Jacobs family between late October and early November 2021.
The dead body of Susanna was found at the bottom of a Chapman’s Peak cliff, on the morning of Wednesday 3 November 2021, only two days after Melissa’s body was found washed up about 7km away on Noordhoek Beach.
Passers-by who were using binoculars to take in the majestic views of the Chapman’s Peak mountain slopes caught sight of Soekie’s Yorkshire terrier, Shauna, seemingly distressed and contacted authorities.
The dog, it’s believed, led police to the 59-year-old’s body.
Two days earlier, on Monday 1 November 2021, a dog walker enjoying a scenic stroll along Noordhoek beach had stumbled upon the haunting sight of Melissa’s body being pushed further ashore by low-tide waves.
Racehorse trainer and Noordhoek resident Mike Stewart informed IOL News that he was alerted to the gruesome discovery by a groomsman and immediately contacted authorities.
How did a quiet and loving mother and daughter, who moved to Cape Town to restart their lives, end up dead at separate locations?
This question continues to baffle detectives.
The last time Susanna and Melissa were seen alive was at approximately 14:00 on Friday 29 October 2021.
According to a close family friend Danielle Daniels, CCTV footage captured outside the cottage showed the moment Susanna and Melissa got into an e-hailing taxi on that Friday afternoon.
It is still unclear where the mom and daughter were headed, but by Monday 1 November 2021, they had not returned.
Fearing the worst, Danielle filed a missing person report and sure enough, she was informed of the gruesome discovery of Melissa’s body.
By then, a concerted search effort led by the Table Mountain National Park, the National Sea Rescue Institute, the Western Cape Government’s Health, EMS and Wilderness Search and Rescue team, and officials from the SA Red Cross Air Mercy Service ramped up resources to locate Susanna.
A Fish Hoek resident who spoke anonymously to IOL News reflected on the moment Danielle was informed of the double tragedy.
“It’s a tragic story and I can’t imagine what the family must be going through. Danielle was completely devastated when they told her they had found the daughter, and even more so when they informed us that they found the mother at the bottom of Chapman’s Peak.”
News of the deaths quickly spread across the coastal town and on social media and very soon, theories of what may have happened to Susanna and Melissa broke out, with some claiming that the mother and daughter committed suicide.
A large part of what drove the suicide narrative was the claim that next to Susanna’s body were the ashes of her son, Shaun.
However, Danielle was quick to shoot down these claims. Speaking on the theories, she said.
“Soekie was like a mother to me. She was kind, loving, the most beautiful person I knew. They both were. This is so terrible. I’m still trying to process their deaths. What people are saying is not right. I’d like for people to be kind to the family right now and respect them by not saying things that are not true.”
Detectives piecing together the timeline of the mom and daughters last moments have not opened up about what they know so far.
Central to the investigation is the e-hailing taxi driver who, at the time of recording this episode, was unknown.
Where did he drop off Susanna and Melissa? How did Susanna and the Yorkie Shauna end up on a cliff at Chapman’s Peak? And more importantly, how did Melissa end up more than 7km away washing away at Noordhoek Beach?
These questions and more remain unanswered.