Gert van Rooyen: Police undertake excavations in KZN

2017-06-14 23:22
Police excavating a Durban beach. (Alet van Rensburg Wright via Facebook)

Police excavating a Durban beach. (Alet van Rensburg Wright via Facebook)

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Durban - The KwaZulu-Natal police will continue excavating a Durban beach on Thursday in their search for the remains of six girls who were allegedly kidnapped and murdered by a Pretoria paedophile and his girlfriend in the 1980s.

Gert van Rooyen was linked to the disappearance of the young girls during that time, but he was never arrested, Netwerk24 reports.

Tracey-Lee Scott-Crossley, 13, Fiona Harvey, 11, Joan Horn, 13, Anne-Marie Wapenaar, 12, Odette Boucher, 12 and Yolanda Wessels, 12, disappeared between August 1, 1988 and November 2, 1989.

Van Rooyen shot dead his partner, Joey Haarhoff and turned the gun on himself during a police chase in January 1990.

Since that time, nobody could find a trace of the young girls.

Alet van Rensburg Wright, executive producer of SABC2's programme Fokus, was present on Wednesday when the police, assisted by a conservation officer, started excavating an area at the Bluthedale beach north of Durban.

Van Rensburg Wright said that Fokus had conducted widespread research the past 15 months and received information that the girls could perhaps be buried in that area.

"We gave the police all our information earlier this year and on the strength of that they said they couldn't ignore the matter".

The police confirmed this information.

The KwaZulu-Natal heritage foundation Amafa is also involved in the excavation project.

Van Rensburg Wright said initially they battled "to confirm a date.

"We eventually decided that the work had to start this week."

‘Still hoping’

According to the information, the bodies of the young girls could be buried close to a storm water drain in the area.

By Wednesday the police haven't yet found any remains.

Van Rensburg Wright said: "We battled today (on Wednesday) to find the storm water drain, but we eventually found it.

“We're going to dig further on Thursday."

She said family members of three of the girls were at the scene and were closely involved in the investigation.

One family member, Natasha Boucher, 43, watched while the police's forensic teams were busy in the area.

Odette was her sister, who would have been 39-years-old by now.

Boucher told the Zululand Observer that there was still hope, but said she was a realist.

"Obviously we're still hoping, because this isn't something you can just let go. I know my mother still hopes that my sister is alive."

Numerous allegations

The past few years Flippie, one of Gert van Rooyen's sons, has been found guilty of perjury after making conflicting statements and allegations to the police about the whereabouts of the missing girls.

These allegations led to fruitless searches at Umdloti on the KwaZulu-Natal north coast where Van Rooyen and Haarhoff had a holiday home.

Flippie was sentenced to death in June 1991, just a year after his father's death, for murdering a Zimbabwean teenager. It was later changed to lifelong imprisonment.

During his incarceration, he among others alleged that the bodies of the girls had been dipped in acid during satanic rituals; that they had been abducted to the Middle East and at one stage he also said that "certain highly-placed members of the National Party government," had been involved in the abduction and "selling" of the girls.

Following his allegations, Van Rooyen's home in Capital Park, Pretoria, was demolished brick by brick and huge areas of the beach at the KwaZulu-Natal coast were searched for clues to ascertain the whereabouts of the young girls.

Flippie's sentence for perjury ran concurrently with his sentence of lifelong imprisonment. He has in the meantime been released on parole.

His legal representative, Advocate Lawrence Barit, said that Flippie could not comment on the latest search because his parole only expired in 2019 and several conditions had been attached to his parole.

However, a former acquaintance of Flippie said: "There's always been rumours about something happening at the north coast. At the time Flippie said something to that effect."

The police said in 2007, after new rumours that the bodies of the girls had been hidden just about 2km from the Pretoria home, that they had never formally closed Gert van Rooyen's dossier.

"If there was new information, we act on it," the police said at the time.

That search also didn't yield any results.

* The police started watching Gert van Rooyen in 1990 after the kidnapped Joan Booysens managed to escape and informed the police about him and Haarhoff's activities.

* Fokus will broadcast a special report on the Durban excavations on SABC2 on Sunday at 19:00

Read more on:    durban  |  child abuse  |  crime

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