Mystery surrounds missing student
Maygene De Wee, Die Burger
Cape Town - A student who is working towards a doctorate in chemical engineering has been missing since he booked into a guest house on the West Coast last Wednesday.
Jaco Kotze, 26, from Welkom, a student and part-time lecturer at the North-West University (NWU) in Potchefstroom, arrived at the guest house in Hondeklip Bay last Wednesday and was planning to spend the night there.
Rob Meintjes, owner of the Skulpieskraal Tented Lodge, confirmed on Monday that Kotze had booked in at the lodge at about 18:00.
"He put his things down in his tent and even came to ask where he could go for a walk along the beach.
"I showed him where it's safe to walk," said Meintjes.
Kotze then went for a walk but never returned, and hasn't been seen or heard from since.
Meintjes said they suspect he walked to a big boulder known as "Spitfire".
"We think a huge wave must have knocked him off the boulder."
No foul play suspected
According to Meintjes he started to worry when he still hadn't seen Kotze by Thursday afternoon.
"We had a look inside his tent and it was clear that he hadn't slept there."
Meintjes then went to the police where he reported Kotze as missing.
Gerrit Cloete, police spokesperson in Springbok, confirmed on Monday that there's a large-scale search operation underway.
The community of Hondeklip Bay have been searching for Kotze almost non-stop since Thursday.
On Saturday the police called for backup from Upington and a police helicopter was also deployed to help in the search.
Kotze's mother, Margie Kotze, said on Monday that the last time she spoke to Jaco was on Tuesday night.
"He was at Olifantshoek in a caravan park. He even told me he was going to switch off his cellphone and only switch it on again to phone me."
She said that's why she didn't find it strange when she didn't hear from him for days.
"We don't suspect any foul play. His wallet and cellphone were still locked in his car," she said.
Must have been an accident
Karel van der Westhuizen, student chaplain at the NWU campus, said Kotze's favourite quote (according to his Facebook profile) - "When you die, may it not be before you have lived" - describes the way he lived.
"Jaco did everything with passion. He was definitely not depressed. All I can think is that there must have been an accident."
The last time he spoke to Kotze was on Wednesday morning.
"I had to do some banking for Jaco. Later that afternoon I received another SMS from him."
When he tried to contact Kotze again later, he wasn't able to get hold of him.