'Link' to long-lost Van Rooyen girls

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Independent Newspapers

Was this theirs? A green dress found on a mystery skeleton under an East Rand swimming pool.

Forensic scientist David Klatzow has joined police and private investigators in a bid to solve the mystery of a female skeleton and a green dress found under an East Rand swimming pool.

And to add to the intrigue, questions are now being raised about whether the remains could be those of one of a string of girls who went missing and are thought to have fallen victim to notorious 1980s paedophile Gert van Rooyen.

The pool was built more than 20 years ago in 1989. Van Rooyen was involved in a construction company that installed swimming pools at the time.

The bones and items of clothing were unearthed a year ago and while police say they believe they belong to an adult, Klatzow disagrees.

The house in question is owned by Rudi Marx, but he didn’t own the property at the time the pool was built.

The bones, some of which have what appears to be saw marks, were found during renovations being done to the house.

GRUESOME DISCOVERY

Marx called in a private investigator, Hennie Els, to probe the gruesome discovery.

Klatzow said that among the bones were a jawbone, an iliac bone, which connects to the hip joint, and three incisor teeth.

He said he had attempted to get access to these bones but had been blocked by police.

He disputed that the skeleton was definitely that of an adult, saying it could be that of a young teenager.

The jaw bone would need to be properly scanned to ascertain the victim’s age.

Some of the bones had what appeared to be saw marks, which Klatzow said was “unusual for a normally buried body, and why would you bury a body under a swimming pool anyway? I don’t believe those marks would have been made by a spade during digging,” he added.

With the incomplete skeleton were a green dress, black knitted tights and a brass ring.

Klatzow said the green dress had what seemed to be holes in it, which could come from a stabbing. He also confirmed the pool was built around the time of the disappearances of several young girls, including from the East Rand. Van Rooyen was linked to the disappearances of six girls from 1988 to early 1990.

MISSING GIRLS NEVER FOUND

Van Rooyen shot his partner Joey Haarhoff, then turned the gun on himself near their Pretoria home in January 1990 after eluding a massive dragnet by hiding out in KwaZulu-Natal. The whereabouts of the missing girls has never been determined.

Police captain Mike van Aardt, who has worked on several high-profile cases including the disappearance of Leigh Matthews and has recently been assigned to the Oscar Pistorius case, said police investigations showed the pool was built in September 1989 by a company called Gorgi Pools. The company has since closed.

Van Aardt said the directors of this company had been traced and interviewed, but no information about the identity of the dead girl had come to light. The company had sometimes made use of contractors and day labourers, which made it difficult to track the people who had actually worked on the pool.

“The clothing, a green dress and black tights, were more or less intact, but very brittle. There was also a brass pipe ring,” he confirmed, adding that bone fragments had been sent for testing overseas so that a DNA profile could be drawn up. While police thought the skeleton was that of an adult, the exact age and race of the dead person still had to be determined.

“The problem is that back then we didn’t have a proper missing persons bureau and police stations didn’t really co-ordinate with one another, so this case is like searching for a needle in a haystack.”

Els said he had received no information from the police about the bones since they were taken for testing.

He had traced the people who lived in the house at the time the swimming pool was installed, but they could not confirm the contractor’s name.

He was trying to ascertain whether a construction company that had been run by Van Rooyen and his brothers, which had built some swimming pools, had been involved in the construction of this pool.

Els said he was trying to track down the plans for the pool, which would have been filed with the municipality at the time.

“The problem is that they moved offices and all the files have just been dumped in one huge storeroom,” he said.

He was also attempting to trace one of Van Rooyen’s brothers.

NO MATCH

The green dress and leggings do not match the descriptions of what Tracy-Lee Scott Crossley, Annemarie Wapenaar, Odette Boucher, Fiona Harvey or Yolanda Wessels were wearing at the time of their disappearances.

A description of what Joan Horn was wearing when she went missing in Pretoria in June 1989 could not be found this week.

Nine-year-old Rosa Piel from Alberton also went missing in 1989, although her disappearance has never been officially linked to Van Rooyen.

The National Spa and Pool Institute withdrew the membership of Gorgi Pools in November 1989, according to a report at the time. The Institute said this week it had taken this action because it had received many complaints from customers, and because the company’s subscription fees were not paid up.

The companies register lists two companies associated with the name Gorgi Pools, both subsequently deregistered.

Consulting the corporate history of one of these – actually registered as Chekbar Investments but trading as Gorgi Pools – Saturday Star was able to identify two former directors and track down one of them, John Barry Krog.

A shocked Krog said it was the first he had heard of the case. He had been a silent partner and not involved in the day-to-day running of the business.

As far as he was aware, the company had used sub-contractors and day labourers, particularly for the digging of pools and the electrical installations. He could not say if Van Rooyen’s business had ever been subcontracted.

He also could not provide contact details for his business partner, Bartel Van Rheede Van Oudtshoorn, saying he had not spoken to him in years.

“He was very strict on site and a church-going man, so I can’t see that he would have known about this.

“Maybe the body was there before we put the pool in?” he said. -Saturday Star


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