Opinion: Desperately seeking Chelsea Wei

The city is divided about who Chelsea Wei, receptionist to the self-confessed rhino horn trafficker Mr Jianguang Guan at The Jin Lu Chinese Beauty and Massage Salon at Sonpark, is and what role she played in the alleged brothel, as it was described by the Hawks after a recent investigation.

One thing is certain: she may just be the missing link needed to find the now-notorious Guan. In November, he was caught on a hidden camera telling Al Jazeera that he had bribed officials to keep illegal immigrants in the country. He has since vanished.

Chelsea is believed to have been his right hand, acting as a translator and handling the paperwork for his businesses. However, friends have come to her defense, claiming Guan was her stepfather and she was merely a receptionist at the salon. On the other hand, there are also those who say she had more money to throw around than a receptionist could possibly earn.

One of her close friends, who does not want to be named but who spent years living the good life in Mbombela with Chelsea, said she just enjoyed parties and dressing up. She said Chelsea loved celebrities and posed for selfies with anyone famous or good-looking.

This was obvious from her Facebook page, which has been closed since December when the salon was also closed by Home Affairs. They sent most of the employees to a detention centre in Krugersdorp from where they were deported. Spokesman, Mr Thabo Mokgala, confirmed that four of the manicurists and masseuses were in the country illegally as they were registered as “wood carvers” on their work visas.

Mokgala could not confirm whether Chelsea was one of the employees, but it appears that she is currently in Beijing, from where she sent a former client a tea set as posted on her Facebook page.

Another close friend said she had her doubts about Chelsea all along and ended their friendship when it became clear that Chelsea’s lifestyle was too upmarket for someone in their twenties. She also claimed seeing Chelsea getting into expensive vehicles, scantily clad in miniskirts, with unknown men.

Chelsea would throw money around, and she apparently took her boyfriend on a holiday to China. The boyfriend has since also closed his profile on Facebook, which had been under a pseudonym, and his whereabouts are also unknown.

The boyfriend, who is from White River, used to frequent the salon and Guan’s Chinese restaurant with Chelsea.

When Chelsea, Guan and his business associates frequented the restaurant, waiters were reportedly not allowed within earshot of the conversations.

A former waiter told Lowvelder he was friends with Chelsea and her boyfriend, who also used to waiter at the restaurant, and claimed Chelsea was in charge of managing the girls.

Another friend, who was introduced to Chelsea by his ex-girlfriend, said she was a nice person. Another said she spent a lot of cash on food and drinks. She would sometimes have young Chinese girls, who could not speak English, with her.  The friend would meet them and never see them again. Chelsea would show no pictures of the girls on her Facebook wall, which is strange for a lover of selfies who diligently documented her social life on social media.

A woman living in the same residential complex as Chelsea, in Stonehenge, said two women were still living in the house and it received frequent visitors.

Another shop owner at Sonpark confirmed two women were still opening and closing the salon. It was officially closed for a while, but on Wednesday morning, a truck was spotted outside the salon with a new sign showing they were open for business once more.

Tereasa Dias

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