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S. African Police Seek Yale Student

August 17, 2001

JOHANNESBURG, South Africa (AP) _ Police are searching for an American student from Yale University who disappeared in South Africa nearly three weeks ago after saying she feared for her life.

Natasha Smalls, 20, was last seen on the campus of the University of Natal in the coastal city of Durban on July 31.

She was supposed to fly home to New York City on Aug. 1, but she never arrived. Soon after, the U.S. Consulate in Durban reported her missing to police.

Police spokesman Vish Naidoo said Friday no progress had been made in the search.

Smalls, an African studies major at Yale, had been studying at the South African university for the spring semester. Her studies ended in June, and she planned to spend a few months traveling in the country before returning home.

Smalls’ mother, Glory Smalls, said she last spoke to her daughter July 26. In a phone call, Smalls told her mother she feared for her life and had been locked up in a psychiatric hospital in Zimbabwe.

``She was in tears,″ the mother said. ``She said he was in Saint Port, Zimbabwe, but she didn’t give me the name of the hospital. We got cut off.″

Glory Smalls said she told her daughter to fly home immediately. Natasha Smalls withdrew money July 30 in Johannesburg to pay for her plane ticket.

The airline said she never got on the plane.

In March, Smalls was assaulted in South Africa. Her mother said she flew there and urged her daughter to come home, but she was determined to stay.

Update hourly