Yet another chapter in the tragic mystery of the six young victims of paedophile Gert van Rooyen opened on the North Coast last week.
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 Haarhoff.
This followed a 15-month investigation by TV programme Fokus, which uncovered what they believed was compelling evidence the girls might have been buried there after Van Rooyen and Haarhoff holidayed at the resort.
Fokus executive producer Alet Wright, inset, said a family who had once lived in Blythedale contacted her and said that while they were living there, their two-yearold son had an “imaginary friend” he called Sheraton, who told him she had been beaten and assaulted by adults. The father had also seen the figure of a young girl next to their swimming pool, but she had vanished.
Van Rooyen and Haarhoff were linked to the disappearance of five girls between 1988 and 1990. 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 Van Rooyen’s house in Pretoria and alerted the police. Van Rooyen shot Haarhoff and then committed suicide during a police chase on January 16, 1990, less than a week later. The couple are known to have holidayed in Blythedale and Umdloti. Forensic teams have previously searched both locations, without success.
But this year, Wright was told by spiritualist LaRenta Marx that she was sure bodies had been buried near a construction site on or near Blythedale.
A search of the archives of The North Coast Courier revealed that when the existing car park and public toilets at Blythedale were being built in 1989, a stormwater pipe had been laid on the beach. The medium believed the bodies were under it.
Armed with this information, Wright convinced the police to investigate further. Saps Forensics called in earthmoving machinery to uncover the pipe on Wednesday, after its position had been pointed out by retired municipal engineer Leon Klopper.
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, which dug deeper but were eventually halted by a thick concrete slab under the beach. The search was called off on Thursday night having had no success.
Van Rooyen had a long history of sexual violence. In 1979, he abducted two girls, aged 10 and 13, taking them to Hartbeespoort Dam near Pretoria where he punched them in the face to force them to strip naked and perform sexual acts. He released them in Pretoria the next day, and was arrested and sentenced to four years’ imprisonment for abduction – serving three years before being released.
Van Rooyen met Haarhoff 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 holidays and weekends. The couple applied to foster children, but were 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 confirming they had taken the girls. Police searched their Pretoria property and locations in Umdloti and Blythedale where they had holidayed in vain.
On March 12, 2007, a set of adolescent bones was found on the beach near Umdloti, about 500 metres from a resort Van Rooyen and Haarhoff had visited. But DNA testing did not identify any of the victims. – Caxton News Service