Friends, family honour Gumtree victim

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olwin cowley funeral INLSA A memorial service was held for Olwyn Vanin Cowley after he was shot to death by three men posing as potential buyers of his car. Here friends and family pay their respects. Picture: Candice Chaplin

Cape Town - They knew him as a skater, someone who would fall but always get back on his board. And he could never turn down a McFlurry.

These were some of the things that Olwyn Cowley’s closest friends and family shared during a memorial service held for the 21-year-old on Wednesday.

“I am speaking to all of his friends,” said Cowley’s mother, Surita, choking back tears. “You are my sons now.”

Cowley was shot and killed last week after meeting potential buyers responding to a car advert he had placed on the Gumtree website. His body was found in the dunes on Monwabisi beach in Khayelitsha.

“He never knew that day would be his last,” Pastor Ewald van Schalkwyk told mourners. “He never knew he would be all over the papers.”

But there was no anger inside the AFM Church in Bellville, where hundreds of family and friends had gathered to pay their final respects and remember the passionate skater.

“He didn’t concentrate much in school, he preferred the social side,” joked Jan van der Westhuizen. “He made friends wherever he went.”

Van der Westhuizen was a former colleague of Cowley’s and had become a second father to him.

Cowley lost his father when he was a child.

Cowley’s girlfriend, Bianca Booysen, attempted to read a poem entitled If Tomorrow Starts Without Me, but was forced to hand over the responsibility as she was overcome with grief.

She handed over the piece of paper to her friend as tears spilled down her cheeks.

Kyle Ludik dyed his hair blonde in memory of his golden-haired childhood friend.

“My fondest memory is when we jumped into a bakkie and headed to the farm. We spent the night braaing boerewors and swopping stories,” said Ludik.

Meanwhile, a 52-year-old man was arrested on Monday night in connection with the murder of Cowley.

He was due to appear in the Mitchells Plain Magistrate Court on Thursday alongside three other accused, and will be facing charges of murder, hijacking and the illegal possession of firearms and ammunition.

The three men, aged between 25 and 30, appeared in the Mitchells Plain Magistrate’s Court earlier this week.

Jason Elias, Shewaal Staggie and Romies Felix have been charged with kidnapping, murder and possession of illegal firearms after two firearms were found on them.

Cowley was last seen last Thursday night after he left home to meet men who had expressed an interest in buying his car, a silver BMW 325ti, advertised on the online classified site, Gumtree. The meeting was supposed to have taken place at Century City.

Police believed the men had met Cowley before kidnapping him and taking his car. Cowley’s body was found with two gunshot wounds to the head on Friday at Monwabisi beach in Khayelitsha. His car was later found in Mitchells Plain where one of the suspects was arrested.

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