Durban - The disappearance of eccentric Glenwood millionaire Dietrich Scholz, who was last seen in January, is puzzling not only his neighbours but also the police.
German-born Scholz, 72, has seemingly disappeared without trace and attempts to file a missing person report allegedly have not been taken seriously by the Umbilo police.
Captain Thulani Zwane says police are aware of the incident.
“We tried to locate the family, but could not find them. The neighbours can assist the police by providing information.”
Scholz’s luxurious JB Marks (Chelmsford) Road home, worth an estimated R2.5 million, has been trashed. Vagrants, with a set of house keys, were found living in the garage.
Now there are concerns that Scholz, who has no family or relatives in Durban, might be dead.
Real estate agent Charmaine Galbraith, who sold Scholz the house and checked up on him regularly, is flabbergasted by his disappearance.
“It is like he has disappeared off the face of the Earth. He was a walking target and it would have been easy for people to take advantage of him. I doubt he is still alive, but I have hope that he is alive and safe somewhere. I have received calls from people claiming to have seen him, although the descriptions don’t match.”
After being informed by residents that he was last seen in January, Galbraith tried to open a missing person’s case at the Umbilo police station.
“No one is taking this seriously. When I tried to report his disappearance to police, I was asked quite arrogantly if I could smell a (dead) body from the street. When I replied I couldn’t, the officers said ‘well then he can’t be dead’. I was also told I couldn’t file a report because I was not family.”
Galbraith said she met Scholz about two years ago after selling him the house.
“He was interested in buying property and after seeing a number of flats said he wanted to spend his last years in paradise. When I took him to the house in Chelmsford Road, he walked around in a daze and called it paradise. He paid cash for it and moved in, pushing a trolley with his mattress in it.”
She said he was a harmless old soul and very approachable, although quite strange.
“He didn’t speak much about his life, but mentioned that he had a son. He lived alone in Durban. I would check up on him on Sundays and usually found him pottering around in his garden. I got him a cellphone, which he tossed, saying the CIA was after him.”
Galbraith has since contacted the German Embassy in Pretoria and sent them all the relevant documents.
“They have taken this issue seriously and have been in contact with me, saying they are investigating. They have been in contact with his brother and checked with him to ensure that he did not return to Germany.”
She said Scholz was known in the community and was seen walking with his trolley to the shops.
She said she visited the home with a colleague recently, using a key kept by a neighbour.
“This beautiful house that he was so proud of and called his paradise was wrecked. There were boxes, clothes and food strewn around. There was faeces on his mattress in his bedroom. We also found teeth, a molar and a few incisors downstairs with stains on the carpet. His passport and money bag were still there.”
She said Scholz’s temporary asylum seeker permit expired in January.
“It is a shocking scenario. Everyone who knew him in the community is concerned about his whereabouts. I know he withdrew R300 every week to live on. His bank manager has confirmed there have been no withdrawals lately.”
Umbilo Community Policing Forum chairman Ben Madokwe said police were probably investigating as everyone in Glenwood was talking about the missing man.