Murdered Ukrainian tourist Ivan Ivanov pictured here with his wife, Tina, and one of their three children. Picture: Supplied
Murdered Ukrainian tourist Ivan Ivanov pictured here with his wife, Tina, and one of their three children. Picture: Supplied

Family of slain Ukrainian tourist tells of heartbreak, miscommunication

By Madelyn Winchester Time of article published Aug 1, 2019

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Cape Town - All three suspects have now been arrested in the robbery and murder of Ivan Ivanov, a businessman who was hiking in Hout Bay on Saturday when he was stabbed to death and robbed of his belongings. Ivanov was a Russian national with a Ukrainian passport.

“Unrelenting efforts of Hout Bay detectives have paid off with the arrest of a third suspect this afternoon in the murder case of an Ukrainian hiker. The suspect, aged 27, is expected to appear in court on August 3,” police said in a statement.

While Ivanov’s family are grateful for the progress in the investigation, the experience of losing their father and husband has been unbearable.

Apart from the heartache that comes with the death of a loved one, the family has been up against bureaucratic challenges and miscommunication that brought a new burden of pain.

The miscommunication had begun when Ivanov’s family were alerted that something had gone awry on their family member’s trip. At about 11.12am, a Community Crime Prevention (CCP) guard used Ivanov’s phone to dial his son, Gleb.

The CCP guard had apprehended the first suspect in possession of Ivanov’s phone and backpack and was seeking information on the whereabouts of the phone’s owner. At 11.27am, CCP officials called Gleb again to tell him they had found his father’s body.

“At first I thought it was a joke or the phone call was by a criminal,” Gleb said of the Messenger calls. He spent the next five hours trying to verify the claims with SAPS officials, but said he was unable to confirm his father’s death until late afternoon, when an alert was posted on Table Mountain Watch.

A police victim support counsellor eventually conferred the confirmation of Ivanov’s death to Tina, his wife. Gleb described these hours as the most painful of his life.

While CCP was attempting to help Ivanov as quickly as possible and succeeding in apprehending the first suspect involved, they also set off a chain of events that became out of their control when police took over.

Gleb and Tina have the utmost respect for CCP officials for calling Gleb and alerting him.

The original call they made could have even saved Ivanov’s life, had the situation been different. But, according to a police spokesperson, it was the embassy’s duty to alert the family when a foreign national had been reported dead in South Africa.

CCP response officer JJ de Villiers acknowledged that the family should not have found out that way. “It was a mistake; his son shouldn’t have been called - it should have been a grief counsellor.”

However, in their media statement released on Wednesday, SAPS thanked CCP and community members for assisting in information gathering and tracking that led to the final arrests.

Now the family waits for the investigation to finish so they can finally put their loved one to rest. They have extended their thanks to CCP and the Hout Bay community.

According to the family, Ivanov had requested that his ashes be scattered at the Cape of Good Hope in testimony to his love of South Africa. The family will wait until the children are older to make the journey here, as it is too still painful for them now.

Cape Argus

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