Bruce Stephenson
4 minute read
22 Jun 2017
1:24 pm

Psychic leads police in hunt for Van Rooyen’s victims

Bruce Stephenson

Police said while the current search had been called off, the cases remained open.

The search at Blythdale Beach. Picture: North Coast Courier

Yet another chapter in the tragic mystery of the six young victims of paedophile Gert van Rooyen unfolded on the North Coast last week, reports The North Coast Courier.

A police forensic team spent two days digging around a stormwater pipe on Blythedale Beach for the remains of two, possibly three, of the victims of Van Rooyen and his lover, Joey Haarhof.

The team travelled from Gauteng following a 15-month investigation by the SATV programme Fokus, which uncovered what they believed was compelling evidence that the girls might have been buried there after Van Rooyen and Haarhof holidayed at the resort village.

Fokus executive producer Alet Wright said she had been contacted by a family who had once lived in Blythedale.

They told her that while they lived in Blythedale, their two-year-old son had an “imaginary friend” who he called Sheraton, who told him that she had been beaten and assaulted by adults.

The father had also seen the figure of a young girl next to their swimming pool, which had vanished.

Van Rooyen and Haarhoff were linked to the disappearance of five girls between 1988 and 1990.

Van Rooyen and his lover, Joey Haarhof. Picture: North Coast Courier

They allegedly kidnapped Joan Horn, 13, Odette Boucher, 11, Anne-Marie Wapenaar, 12, Yolande Wessels, 12 and Fiona Harvey, 12.

The girls have never been found.

Their last victim escaped from Gert van Rooyen’s house in Pretoria and alerted the police. Van Rooyen shot Haarhof and then committed suicide during a police chase on January 16, 1990, less than a week after the escape.

The couple are known to have holidayed in Blythedale and Umdloti. Forensic teams have previously searched for bodies at both locations, without success. This year, Wright was told by a spiritualist, LaRenta Marx, that she was sure that bodies had been buried near a construction site on or near Blythedale.

She then searched the archives of The North Coast Courier and discovered that when the existing car park and public toilets at Blythedale were being built in 1989, a stormwater pipeline had been laid on to the main beach.

The medium believed there were bodies under the pipe.

Armed with this information, Wright managed to convince the police that further investigation would be justified. This initiative also received the support of Linette Boucher, mother of 11-year-old Odette Boucher, and her sister Natasha.

SAPS Forensics called in earth-moving machinery to help uncover the pipe last Wednesday, after the position had been pointed out by retired municipal engineer, Leon Klopper, who lives in the village.

The team dug further with spades and sifted for evidence, but were hampered by the depth of the sand.

Former Springbok rugby captain Gary Teichmann donated two more machines on Thursday, which dug further, but were eventually stopped by a thick concrete slab under the beach. The search was called off on Thursday night without any success. Longtime Blythedale resident Jenny Rutledge of Minivillas said that she would be very surprised if the police had managed to find anything of interest.

“This beach is constantly moving with the tides and storms. It would be astonishing if anything had remained in one place under the sand for 27 years. I really feel sorry for the families of the girls and I know they want closure, but it would be hoping for a lot to find them now.”

Van Rooyen had a long history of sexual violence.

In 1979 he abducted two girls, aged 10 and 13, taking them to the Hartbeespoort Dam near Pretoria, where he punched them in the face to force them to strip naked and perform sexual acts.

The search for the victims at Blythedale Beach. Picture: North Coast Courier

Van Rooyen met Haarhof in 1988, and is thought to have used her to lure young girls for him.

Children’s homes reported that she telephoned requesting to bring girls home for the holidays and weekends. The couple applied to foster children, but the application was turned down.

The disappearance of the six young girls in 1988 and 1989 caused nationwide alarm. After the suicide pact of Van Rooyen and Haarhoff had been carried out, police discovered forensic evidence and eyewitnesses which confirmed that they had taken the girls.

Police teams searched their Pretoria house and grounds, and several locations in Umdloti and Blythedale where the couple had holidayed, without any success.

On March 12, 2007, renewed interest in the case occurred after a set of adolescent bones was found on the beach near Umdloti, about 500m away from a holiday resort that Van Rooyen and Haarhoff are known to have visited.

Subsequent DNA testing did not identify any of the Van Rooyen victims.

Emeric Pilz, chairperson of the Blythedale Ratepayers’ Association, said the recurring searches for the missing girls must be extremely hard on their families.

“I really feel their anguish. I know these searches are done with good intent, but it must be so hard for their families to have their hopes raised again and again, and all for nothing. It’s so terrible for them.”

Police said while the current search had been called off, the cases remained open.

Caxton News Service

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