International manhunt for Durban fugitive may have come to an end in Uruguay
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Durban - In a twist of fate, an international manhunt for a suspected killer from Durban may have come to an end as a man believed to be Dylan Dean Taljaard, 25, has been picked up by authorities in Uruguay.
Taljaard has been on the run since 2016 when he left the country. He was the lead suspect for the murder of his ex-girlfriend, Shannon Roberts. Both Roberts and Taljaard were 18 years old at that time. In August 2018, a warrant for his arrest was issued and he was placed on Interpol’s most wanted or “Red List”.
Roberts’s body was found dumped in the dense bush along Doonside Beach in November 2014. It was reported at the time of the murder that she had sustained stab wounds to her body.
Shannon’s adoptive father, Gavin Roberts, who is based in Johannesburg, spoke yesterday of the circumstances which led to the unexpected arrest of a man in the coastal resort of La Pedrera in Uruguay – an arrest which may finally give his family closure.
“Taljaard was in Brazil during Covid and then disappeared. Last Sunday I got a message from a lady in Uruguay who said a man had assaulted her sister. She knew he was a foreigner and Googled him. She identified that man as Taljaard on the Interpol Red List and realised he was a fugitive from justice.
“From there she got my details. I asked if she was sure about this, as over the last seven years we have received other leads, often from people who wanted to remain anonymous and some of which led us off the track.
“But this woman communicated very well, she had no qualms and sent us the location of the police station where she had filed a report of her sister’s assault. She said she was not going to stand for that,” said Roberts, who passed on all the information to the police.
While police have not officially commented on the possible arrest and extradition of Taljaard, a local eMazimtoti paper said this week that investigating officer Rajan Govender, from the Provincial Organised Crime Unit, confirmed that SAPS were working with Interpol on the case.
Roberts said he and his family had remained determined over the years to track down Taljaard to find the truth about Shannon’s death. According to details of the day Shannon was killed, she had left a friend’s house to meet Taljaard at the beach.
“Shannon was really petite but was strong-willed. She was a harmless, innocent 18-year-old. They had been together, but it seems they were estranged at that time.
“I was determined to find him (Taljaard) and couldn’t give up in good conscience. The police are saying they still have to identify him, but I believe it’s definitely him.
“Taljaard has been evading capture for seven years and for us as a family, it’s living in an empty void.
“There’s a sense of relief now that once the paperwork is done, Taljaard will be sent back to South Africa to stand trial. There’s a lot of evidence which has been gathered by police including video footage from nearby flats. But this will all come out at the trial when the evidence is presented,” said Roberts.
He added that the work done by warrant officer Govender had “restored my faith in our police. He (Govender) has been spectacular and has stayed on top of this case, even seven years later”.
Taljaard went backpacking in 2016 and after leaving South Africa, passport control confirmed he had landed in Dubai, after which movement on his passport had not been picked up.
In 2018, police spotted that Taljaard had posted a picture of himself on Facebook in Argentina.
Taljaard’s family have insisted that their son was innocent of Shannon’s murder and in an interview with sister paper Daily News in February 2019, his father Wynand Taljaard said his son had been “made to look like a suspect and found guilty on social media, mainly by Roberts’s family”.
The farther also dismissed the suspicion that his son could be travelling on false papers, asking “what would be the need for that?”
He added that they had last heard from their son in October 2018 when he was in South America and had not heard from him since. He said Dylan was not aware he was on Interpol’s most wanted list.
He said that because of the negative social media commentary, “Dylan and my family have lived through hell over the last few years”.
SAPS national media had not responded to a request for comment on the arrest and possible extradition of Taljaard at the time of publication.