'Help, hijacked' - Dad's last SMS

2012-10-11 08:25
(Jay Reeves, AP)

(Jay Reeves, AP)

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Durban - A chilling SOS to his daughter and an abandoned car found more than 200km from his office a day later, are the only clues in a family’s frantic search for a KwaZulu-Natal father believed to have been hijacked on Tuesday.

Leon van Rensburg, 52, an IT specialist from New Germany near Pinetown, sent an SMS to his 15-year-old daughter Megan at 10:41 on Tuesday.

It simply said: “Help, hijacked.”

Megan’s cellphone was off as she was at school. She only saw the message four hours later and immediately raised the alarm.

On Wednesday, Van Rensburg’s white Toyota Tazz was found abandoned in Kokstad.

Emotional

“I just want to know where my dad is,” said an emotional Graham van Rensburg, 23, a Bachelor of Commerce student at the University of KwaZulu-Natal's Westville campus.

“I am feeling terrible and I just want to know where my dad is.

“The past two days have been a mess… an absolute rollercoaster with everyone phoning me all the time. It’s hectic.

“I was in shock when I heard. My mom told me when she got home and she was in such a state.”

Van Rensburg snr dropped off his wife at work at 08:15 and was reportedly seen by a work colleague leaving his Fraser Road office in Hillcrest at 09:00.

Comments on the Cato Manor Organised Crime Unit Facebook page said the 10:41 distress SMS was triangulated to a cellphone tower in New Germany.

However, this could not be officially confirmed by police.

Family spokesperson Rob Gardner told The Witness: "The police have just called us and let us know that his car has been found.

“After the SMS that he sent to his daughter we have heard nothing from him. You can imagine how the family is feeling.”

Family man


Van Rensburg, who was born and raised in Pinetown, is a devout family man who enjoys sport, he said.

“He likes playing tennis and is a member of the Lahee Park tennis club. He and his wife attend the Pinetown Methodist Church and he plays guitar in the church band.”

Lahee Park tennis club chair Robert Kelly described Van Rensburg as “an incredible family man”.

“We played tennis together for many years and I know him well.

“He is a hell of a nice man, a really gentle guy who has a wonderful wife and children,” said Kelly.

Social networks were abuzz with posts and tweets of Van Rensburg’s photo, description and appeals for his safe return.

Police have remained mum on their investigation’s progress.

Van Rensburg is still missing and investigations into the hijacking continue, said police spokesperson Thulani Zwane.

The car has been recovered and no arrests have yet been made.

Forensic experts

Facebook posts regarding the vehicle’s discovery on several groups were deleted, apparently on request of a police task team.

One post read: “They do not want information shared now please. This is a request from the SAPS task team. Please delete the post.”

A source close to the investigation, said all items of value had been removed from the car.

The vehicle was at the Kokstad police pound where it would be examined by forensic experts.

The source added that the last signal from Van Rensburg’s cellphone was picked up by a Wyebank tower. This too could not be officially confirmed by police.

Van Rensburg’s disappearance comes on the back of a hijacking in Durban North last week in which estate agent Dorothy Carlyle, 59, endured a nine-hour ordeal at the hands of her assailants.

She was bundled into the boot of her car after being stabbed while her hijackers made several withdrawals from her bank account.

Carlyle was rescued by a team of police and private security staff who recovered the vehicle outside a tavern in KwaMashu.
 
Read more on:    durban  |  pietermaritzburg  |  hijackings
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