With each passing day, family members of missing whistleblower Nomawethu Kunene lose hope that she is still alive.
It has been a month since Kunene mysteriously disappeared.
Her niece Andisiwe Nyembezi said that while the family had hope that she would be found alive, they had to face the reality that she might have been killed.
"We haven't heard much from the police since we reported her missing. All they keep saying is that they are investigating."
If her aunt is no longer alive, Nyembezi said, the family would like her body to be found, so that she can have a dignified burial.
"The only thing that we do not know is whether she is still alive. If she is not, we are hoping that we at least find her body."
She said it was highly unlikely that a person would disappear for longer than a month without telling their family.
"It is really heartbreaking. We are hoping that she is still alive, but the hope is diminishing with each day that passes. While we are hopeful, we have to think about her not being alive," she said.
Kunene previously told News24 that her 42-year-old aunt was a director at West Rand NGO A Re Ageng Social Services.
The two last spoke to one another on February 26.
The family of Nomawethu Kunene, a missing whistleblower, pleads with the public to help locate her https://t.co/NgJuzyHyWH— HuffPost SouthAfrica (@HuffPostSA) March 6, 2018
"We were okay, and she didn't mention that she was going anywhere. She didn't show that anything was wrong," said the Carletonville woman.
"In a way, my aunt's life was in danger because there was conflict between her organisation A Re Ageng Social Services, where she was the deputy director, and the Department of Social Development."
Nyembesi said the matter involved Kunene blowing the whistle on alleged corruption involving money laundering at the department.
Co-founder of A re Ageng, Mpule Thejane, suspects there was something sinister behind her colleague's disappearance.
"Noma did not disappear. I have known her for years, and she loves her children. Her kids are in tertiary [institutions], so she wouldn't just abandon them. Noma was kidnapped," she said.
Thejane strongly believes that Kunene's abductors will not release her.
"When Noma was arrested [on an apparently bogus theft charge] it had nothing to do with A Re Ageng, but all of the officials from the department were present in court.
"We are the complainants in another case, because of Department of Social Development harassment. The department failed us. Imagine the trauma her children have to go through," said Thejane.
Department of Social Development spokesperson Mbangwa Xaba said that he was not aware of any legal action.
"The important thing to remember is that the police aren't talking to us either. Just like everybody else, we are very puzzled," he said.
Lieutenant-Colonel Kay Makhubela said the police were still investigating the circumstances surrounding Kunene's disappearance.