A FORMER Garden Route teenager has been implicated in the murder of her mother, a professional stilt-walker and clown, whose body was found in a shallow grave in Cape Town last week.
Phoenix "Racing Cloud" Theron, 18, her boyfriend Kyle Maspere, 18, and Godfrey Scheepers, 20, are accused of conspiring to kill Theron's 39-year-old mother, Rosemary, several months ago and burying her at the Strandfontein Pavilion.
The plot was uncovered when Scheepers walked into a police station in Cape Town on Thursday last week and confessed to "having information about a missing person".
His confession led to the arrest of the other two the same day.
Maspere is originally from Knysna while Scheepers's home town is unknown.
The three appeared in the Simon's Town Magistrate's Court on Monday.
The court heard that Scheepers had made a full confession in which he alleged that Phoenix and Maspere were on drugs – believed to be tik – when the murder occurred.
He alleged that as Phoenix hugged her mother and told her she was "sorry for fighting" with her, Maspere strangled Theron from behind.
Scheepers was granted R500 bail, while Phoenix and Maspere were remanded to next Thursday.
Theron, who had recently become involved in Cape Town's thriving film industry and starred in a television commercial, had been reported missing by Phoenix in March.
Despite this, Phoenix continued writing to her mother on social media, telling her on one occasion that she had found a new home in Cape Town.
"We talk about you every day and pray for you wherever you are. Don't worry about us, we are happy and strong," she wrote.
She said her sister, Charial, was staying with her.
Garden Route residents who knew Phoenix said the former Knysna High School pupil was a free spirit and the picture of happiness – until she allegedly began to abuse drugs.
Her mother was "flamboyant and brave", and loved by all.
"I met Rosemary and her partner years ago in the Free State," longtime friend Natalie Buttress, of Plettenberg Bay, said.
"Phoenix was only five months old and they were travelling around South Africa in a donkey cart. The family then came to Knysna, where they stayed on a farm in Rheenendal.
"Rosemary was one of the brightest stars. Even the people who didn't like the trance-culture lifestyle she lived, loved her."
Buttress said Theron had moved to Cape Town a few years ago, but was a regular visitor to the Garden Route.
"Phoenix has always been a beautiful child. This [arrest] comes as a big shock."
A close family friend, who did not want to be named, said she knew something was wrong when Theron was not heard from for months.
"She was always so visible. Even if she disappeared on her travels, which happened all the time, you always knew where she was going or someone in the next town would tell you where she was," she said.
"Phoenix grew up in such a beautiful, free place. The family were such beautiful people. What this shows is that a life can be ruined by tik.
"Rosemary had told me she didn't like Kyle and that she did not want Phoenix hanging around with him."
Knysna High School principal Mike Lourens said he was aware of the case but declined to comment.
Rita Knoetze, who co-runs the popular Scarab Village market outside Sedgefield, said she had known Phoenix since the business opened 10 years ago.
"She was just one of the regular market kids, running around and having fun. There were never any problems."
However, the last time Knoetze saw her, earlier this year, she was with older kids and she thought she might have been doing drugs. She believed Phoenix's father still lived in the Garden Route but did not know where.