Farm workers living off Williston Road in Philippi are claiming police do not give poor people equal attention when someone goes missing. This follows the disappearance of Mark Quinton Willemse, an epilepsy sufferer from Eden Park informal settlement off Old Strandfontein Road.According to reports, Willemse had gone to Cradock in the Eastern Cape with a local contractor known as Carl “Kallie” Japtha on Tuesday 3 October. Relatives became concern when he didn’t return with Japtha and co-workers days later. Susan Gilbert says the family only learned about Willemse’s disappearance hours after they returned to Cape Town.“The big boss, who took him, didn’t have the decency to inform us about his disappearance upon his return from Cradock the Saturday evening. We had to walk to his place to question him on my brother-in-law’s whereabouts,” says Gilbert. “The Saturday when he told us about the disappearance, was the day he actually called Cradock police to inform them, keeping in mind that he went missing the Wednesday already. When we phoned [the Cradock police] they said there was no missing persons report for my brother.”The traumatised family says they were turned away at Philippi Police Station. “They told us to go all the way to Cradock to open a missing persons report. They didn’t even assist us to phone Cradock station to follow up. If there was an official report the police would have already made contact with the family, but they didn’t. This tells me there is nothing being done to search for this man,” she says.“Both police stations have failed us and done nothing thus far to ensure Mark is found or brought home safe. Nobody is out there looking for him. “Is this because we are poor and not that important? This is a man like any other who has a worried and traumatised family waiting for him to return home safely. If this had been a person from Constantia or above our level, police would have done their utmost best to ensure he is found.“The way he explained it was that Mark fell ill and went totally crazy, but we as the family know: If our brother got ill, he was unable to move much and needed assistance. I called Japtha personally to ask what really happened and he told us not to make him angry. He says he already gave a statement.” Gilbert urges Philippi and Cradock police to help the family find Willemse. “They should have stepped in immediately like for any other missing person. If it wasn’t for retired police captain Keith Blake, we wouldn’t know what to do. He is helping us go through the right channels and fighting with police to ensure Mark is found.”Blake says: “I demand a full investigation as soon as possible to start proceedings and investigation into his disappearance. The police and the contractor are to blame for him not being found yet.” Looking for himJaptha says this is untrue. “I would never harm any of my workers. I did my best to look for Mark but cannot do anything further unless he is found. If the police call today to say they found him, I will drive myself to Cradock to fetch him and bring him back safe to his family, because he is my worker and I took him with me. Until then I can’t do much,” he says.Japtha says Willemse had been acting “crazy” before his disappearance. “I only found out about his illness after reporting the incident to the family. I warned Mark the Monday that he shouldn’t go with to Cradock because he was drunk and not doing well. The Tuesday he was the first worker on the bakkie to go with to work. I again told him to stay but he insisted,” he says.“Mark was doing fine the Tuesday and ate and slept well with the team. The Wednesday evening, we stopped working due to the storm and decided to have supper together. A co-worker said that Mark was not doing fine and that he was seeing snakes and people attacking him. I went over to check on his wellbeing and he was going crazy.“I told him to sleep in my room. Every time we tried to put the lights on, he would scream,” says Japtha.“After a while he opened the window and jumped through it, as he could not open the door. By the time I opened the door in search of him, he was already gone.” Japtha says the team spent the next two days looking for Willemse, but could not find him. “The Saturday morning we drove to the only hospital in Cradock and spent two hours looking for him. I personally went to Cradock Police Station to open a missing persons report. The captain called me the Monday to inform us that they only loaded the information then, due to staff not doing their work properly. I would never kill or even harm any of my workers.” Cradock police confirm that Willemse has been reported as missing there. Captain Lance Goliath of Philippi Police Station says they are doing their best to ensure he is found. “We are in communication with Cradock police as to the whereabouts of Mark. If anything is needed from our Cape Town department we will be informed. In the meantime, we are trying to get picture for distribution in Cradock. Cradock police are liaising with us all the time,” he says.V Anyone with information should contact Captain Lorriane Jonke on 048 881 7087, 082 301 8299, 082 301 8552.