We know he is gone, we just want closure – family of student who drowned in Milnerton

2018-10-06 18:03
Keanan Petersen, 20, disappeared at Milnerton Lagoon Beach. (Supplied)

Keanan Petersen, 20, disappeared at Milnerton Lagoon Beach. (Supplied)

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

It's been almost two weeks since 19-year-old Keanan Petersen disappeared beneath the surf at Milnerton Lagoon Beach in Cape Town, and all his family wants is for his body to be found so they can find closure.

His stepbrother, Andrew Steenkamp, spoke to News24 on Friday, just a day after human remains washed up on Sunset Beach, about 5km from where Petersen was last seen.

The police have yet to identify the remains.

"Police told my mother that they found a body and are going to give her a date to give DNA," he said.

Petersen, from Belhar, had been studying for his BCom at the University of the Western Cape and apparently took a rare break to visit the beach with his friends on Monday, September 24.

"They were excited because they hardly ever go to the beach. Most of the time he is at home," said Steenkamp.

Sudden change in water

When his mother called him at the beach, Petersen apparently told her: "Mommy don't worry, I am coming home. We will be home soon".

Steenkamp, who was not at the beach that day, said he had heard that the water had suddenly become rough.

According to the National Sea Rescue Institute (NSRI), local surfer Chris Poseman spotted Petersen and a friend struggling in the water and made his way towards them.

"Chris launched into the surf, swimming towards the man closest to the shoreline, who was appearing to indicate to be in difficulty," said NSRI spokesperson Craig Lambinon.

But before Poseman could reach him, the man disappeared beneath the surf, said Lambinon.

The friend, 22, was further out to sea but was able to get to shore with a surfboard after being helped by two surfers.

He was not injured.

Dreams for the future

Lambinon said the search area, in strong rip and sea currents, extended between Milnerton Lagoon Beach and Milnerton Beach at Woodbridge Island.

There was no sign of Petersen despite an extensive air, sea and shoreline search.

Petersen would have turned 20 this month.

Steenkamp said his stepbrother, "who is like my brother", had big dreams for the future.

"He told my mom he wants to put her in a house, because they are living in a Wendy house. He wanted a decent life for himself."

With the sun setting on Sunday, family and friends gathered at the beach at the spot where he disappeared to pray and throw flowers into the water.

"We just went there and asked God to bring his body back to us," explained Steenkamp.

Petersen's mother Jennifer Davids is devastated, saying she would "never get a son like [Petersen] again".

"It feels like my world is ending," she said tearfully.

"I must just be strong for my family. This is really difficult, but I have accepted that Keanan is gone. He was such a lovely son."

Davids was very proud of her son, not only for his intellect but also of his generous nature.

"He never got the chance to tell me what he wanted to be after he graduated."

Photo doing the rounds

Police confirmed that they found human remains at Sunset Beach around 11:20 on Thursday.

Western Cape police spokesperson Captain FC van Wyk said an inquest was opened and is still under investigation.

Asked if the remains were linked to any recent disappearances, he said: "[A] DNA test and post-mortem will be conducted for [the] cause of death and identity."

A photo doing the rounds on social media, which is said to be of the remains, appears to show a human skeleton with its feet still intact.

Petersen's family were waiting to see whether there was a DNA match.

"I just hope it is his body so we can have certainty and closure," said Steenkamp.

"We know he is gone but we just want closure, that is all. So we can bury him and make peace that he is gone."

Read more on:    cape town  |  drownings

Inside News24

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.