Fears for missing farmer after suspicious SMSComment on this story
Cape Town - A Barrydale farmer has been missing for more than a week. Andrew Whittingdale, 56, owner of the Makouvlei olive farm, was last seen on January 4 by his family and some farmworkers.
His brother, Richard, said he had gone missing at about 4pm on the R62 road that passes through Montague, Ladismith and Joubertina.
A hitchhiker and some of his farmworkers saw him getting into a white BMW with two men.
“Some of his workers were working on the roof of someone’s house and they, too, saw him getting into the car,” Richard Whittingdale said. “They did not worry about it though because they thought it was some of his friends because he got into the car.”
He said he suspected that Andrew had been forced to send him an SMS while in the car. “He requested R200 000 in an SMS. It is not like him to send SMSes. When he asks for money, he normally calls his (business) partner.
“I think he was forced to send that SMS because… (His partner, Desmond) Fernandes was in Brazil at the time and did not respond,” Richard said.
Richard Whittingdale said family and friends had awaited Andrew’s arrival at a braai they had on Friday, January 3.
“I got worried about him because we heard nothing from him and his cellphone was switched off. On Sunday we went to the police,” he said.
Whittingdale said the police had established that on Saturday at 9am in Montagu, money was withdrawn from his brother’s bank account.
“There was R3 000 in the account. Later about R600 was left. I am also trying to get the cellphone records. Maybe that can help,” he said.
Police spokesman Frederick van Wyk said a police search continued.
“The investigation is at a sensitive stage, therefore we cannot disclose further information,” he said.
* If you have any information, please contact the Ladismith police at 028 551 8100, Crime Stop at 08600 10111, or SMS Crime Line at 32211. Whittingdale can also be contacted at 084 793 013.