Cape Town - An alleged killer, deemed by the police to be extremely dangerous and volatile, is on the loose after he mysteriously escaped while being transported from Pollsmoor Prison to court.
The man’s own family and friends of his alleged victim are now fearing for their lives.
Denzil Adams of Surrey Estate is the prime suspect in the murder of Veronic Dickson last month.
Dickson’s body was found in the Roodebloem Road, Woodstock home of a family friend where she’d been staying while finding her feet after her recent move to Cape Town. She had been stabbed, strangled and mutilated.
On the day of the murder, November 22, 28-year-old Adams was questioned by the police. He had cuts on his hand which the police now believe were self-inflicted.
On December 4, Adams was arrested.
Adams appeared in the Cape Town Magistrate’s Court on December 6. His case was postponed by the magistrate so he could undergo psychiatric evaluation.
He was due to appear in court again on December 11. However, when the transport from Pollsmoor Prison arrived at the court on that day, Adams was not among the detainees.
The police told Dickson’s family and friends, who had gathered outside the court, that Adams had in all likelihood refused to get into the truck at the prison.
It was only the following day, when an investigating officer phoned Pollsmoor in an attempt to set up an appointment with Adams that the police realised he had gone.
Phone calls, CCTV footage and statements from police officers established that Adams had left Pollsmoor’s maximum security section as one in a group of 63 detainees. Yet, when the police did a head count of detainees entering the vehicle, the count was 62. Why the disparity had not been immediately identified and reported is unclear.
Carla Williams, spokeswoman for the Department of Correctional Services, confirmed that Adams’s court date was on December 11 and said he had been released into the custody of the police on that day. “He never returned (to prison) from court,” she said.
Details of how Adams had managed to “disappear” are now the subject of an internal police investigation.
“It is absolutely perplexing. I mean, here we’re talking about a guy who has (previously) never been arrested, convicted or never spent a single night in a holding cell or jail. That he managed to escape from one of the most securely guarded facilities in the country is almost beyond belief,” the source said.
There was a suspicion that Adams somehow managed to climb underneath the prison truck and cling to the chassis before dropping off when the vehicle stopped at a stop street on the way to court.
“His escape is incredibly disappointing. It has partially undone an incredible amount of hard investigative work which was needed to secure his arrest,” the source said.
It was known that it could have taken up to eight months before a psychiatrist could evaluate Adams at Valkenberg Hospital, the source added. “During that time he would have been remanded in custody, where he couldn’t harm anyone.”
The Roodebloem Road family, where Dickson was a boarder, are now living in fear of their lives.
“We put up a Christmas tree to try and get some festive cheer going, but the reality is that I can’t sleep. I am lying awake listening to every sound,” said Dickson’s landlady, who asked not to be named. “The moment my daughter heard the news of the escape she became ill, her muscles went into spasm from stress.”
That fear extends to the Gansbaai area, where Dickson lived before moving to Cape Town and where her family still is.
“We are afraid, we are frustrated and we are very disappointed that he managed to escape from custody. I can’t be certain whether or not he’ll rock up on our doorstep,” said Karin Dickson, Veronic’s mother.
Adams’s family – his wife and two children – have gone into hiding. His wife, Monique Adams, initially indicated that she wanted police protection, but she’s reportedly since stopped returning calls and messages left by the investigating officer.
The landlady said Dickson’s murder had occurred a week after Monique had apparently informed Adams that she intended leaving him.
SMSes sent to the landlady appeared to suggest that Monique had feared for the lives of herself and her children even before Adams’s arrest on December 4.
Police spokesman Warrant Officer November Filander said Adams was dangerous and people should not confront him but call the police if they saw him.
He described him as being about 1.7m tall, of slender build with black hair in a mushroom cut and with knife cuts on his hands.
Anyone with details about Adams’s whereabouts should contact the investigating officer, Warrant Officer Warren Smit, at 021 486 2876 or Crime Stop at 08600 10111.