It’s not Fiona

2019-01-24 15:59
Fiona Harvey.

Fiona Harvey. (missing children)

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The 30-year missing persons case of Fiona Harvey has taken another twist after a “chancer” contacted the family claiming to have found her.

A man from the Eastern Cape had phoned members of her family asking them to do a DNA test to see if the DNA of a woman he claimed was Harvey matched Fiona’s.

Those familiar with the incident said the man had even sent photos of the woman to the Harveys, who were apparently quick to deny it was Fiona.

Harvey, who went missing in December 1988 in the suburb of Clarendon when she was just 12 years old, is one of five girls never seen again after allegedly being kidnapped by Gert van Rooyen in the late 1980s. A sixth girl managed to escape.

Van Rooyen was believed to have been helped by his partner Joey Haarhoff. He shot Haarhoff dead then turned the gun on himself while being pursued by police in January 1990.

Investigations into what happened to the five girls have borne no fruit some three decades later, but a recent petition by interested parties imploring Minister of Police Bheki Cele to appoint an investigating officer to be dedicated to this one case has reignited interest in it. The original investigating officer into the Harvey case, the now-retired Don Chandler, has for the past few weeks been working full-time on the case in his personal capacity, trying to piece together bits of evidence and information.

Chandler told The Witness that the woman brought forward to police by the man was in a “confused state” and appeared not to even know who or where she was. “A man phoned the family last week asking them to do DNA tests as soon as possible, but it turned out that police did DNA tests on that very same woman more than a year ago because she was brought to police for the same reason.

“Fiona’s parents were getting calls in the late hours of the night from that man. Their other daughter also got calls. I was … with them [the Harvey family] this week and they are very upset about the entire thing.”

He said it was unclear where the woman is from.

Chandler said Harvey’s parents, who are both in their 80s, want nothing to do with the press and have made peace with the possibility of never finding Fiona. He condemned the man who came forward claiming to have found Fiona. “It is wrong what he did and he is upsetting the families by doing this; it’s terrible and I’m not sure why this guy came forward now.

“I will not take information to families until there is definite proof, otherwise it will just upset them.”

Chandler said he had recently met other victims’ families and was trying to track down those who would have been in Van Rooyen’s inner circle at the time of the kidnappings.

Police spokesperson Brigadier Vish Naidoo said police had over the years been inundated with people — including clairvoyants and psychics — coming forward claiming to know what happened to the kidnapped girls.

“These people are doing a huge disservice to families because they are opening old wounds. We don’t want to entertain it. The investigation is not closed, and when we have something significant, we’ll make a public announcement.”

Meanwhile, the woman who launched the petition to get Cele to appoint a new investigating officer said they were encountering some resistance from people.

“But we’re working hard to push for this case to be concluded. The truth must come out,” said the woman, who started the petition under the pseudonym Rina Moolman.

  • The girls who were kidnapped were of Randburg, Joan Horn (12) of Pretoria, Odette Boucher (11) and Anne-Mari Wapenaar (12) both of Kempton Park, and Yolanda Wessels (13).

In 2014, Major Mike van Aardt, who had investigated the infamous Oscar Pistorius case, was assigned to the case. But still not a single trace of any of the girls has been found.

Read more on:    pietermaritzburg  |  missing children
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