A Gauteng woman has been charged with killing Jamnadas Harkant Nathvani, a British national, whose body was burnt beyond recognition.

Zaheera Boomgaard was arrested on October 9, and she appeared in the Vereeniging Magistrate’s Court on October 12. She was remanded in custody following a formal bail application.

It is alleged that Nathvani, 71, had arrived in Gauteng earlier this year and he was last seen on February 22 when he took a bus from Park Station in Johannesburg to Newcastle in KwaZulu-Natal.

Michael Venter, from SA Community Crime Watch, said Nathvani’s family in the UK had contacted him for help.

They last had contact with Nathvani on March 6, when he messaged them.

A missing person’s case was opened at the Newcastle police station, and the information was circulated. Among his distinctive characteristics, Nathvani was bald. He wore a religious red string on his right wrist, used crutches, and he often wore his reading glasses around his neck.

Venter said his body was found in the open veld in Gauteng in March and that it was burnt beyond recognition. The body was taken to the morgue. He said “He was unable to be identified. His body was there for six months. “It was only in September that the police were able to identify him by his teeth.”

Venter further said the family requested that the last rites and his funeral be conducted in South Africa. The cremation was held last Friday at the Lenasia Crematorium. His ashes were dispersed on Sunday.

He said “According to Hindu traditions, the ashes need to be dispersed in running water. So we went to Heidelberg where we disposed of Nathvani’s ashes according to the family’s wishes.”

He said the family was still traumatised at the news and was unable to speak to the media at this stage. “They were also advised by the British Embassy to not be interviewed as the case was still under investigation.”

According to a police source, Nathvani was found after his friend Lynette Mustapha’s charred remains were found in Walkerville. She was identified by her fingerprints.

Brigadier Vish Naidoo, national police spokesperson, confirmed that Boomgaard had been arrested . “She is currently in police custody following a formal bail application.”

Lumka Mahanjana, regional spokesperson for the North Gauteng National Prosecuting Authority, said Boomgaard appeared on charges of murder, kidnapping, theft and fraud.

The case was adjourned to October23 for a formal bail application.