On December 2 last year, Jolandi le Roux jumped in the air at the cliff edge for photographs taken by her husband, slipped and fell about 160m to her death.
Rescuers risked their lives for more than six hours in dark and hazardous conditions to recover her body, which was trapped almost inaccessibly in the base of a sheer V-shaped gully.
“We know from the deceased’s husband there were people on the scene when his wife fell,” said Detective Commander Captain Deon Bock. “But nobody took their names. We are asking those eyewitnesses to come forward to assist us in our investigation.”
Original reports were that Le Roux had been celebrating her 31st birthday with her family at Lookout Point on December 2 when the event occurred.
But investigations into her death have revealed that after a wine farm lunch she and her husband, Andrew le Roux, 33, arrived at Lookout Point alone.
They sat for some time talking at the cliff edge, some distance from the public viewing area, before she fell.
Le Roux’s family arrived on the scene only after the distraught husband called his mother-in-law with news that she had “fallen off the mountain”.
Earlier that day, he and his wife’s family, including her grandparents, had celebrated her birthday over breakfast in Sea Point.
According to police sources, detectives are appealing for witnesses to assist because they have only the husband’s account of the accident.
He told detectives that after the couple took photos at Lookout Point they crossed the safety railing and walked to the cliff edge. He did not explain why they ignored the sign that warns: “Caution! Strong winds and steep cliffs. Please stay behind the fence at all times.”
“Once you slip there there’s nothing to stop you falling,” said a mountain rescuer. “If you try to grab the rock, it just breaks away.”
In his statement, Andrew le Roux recalled how he and his wife had sat near the cliff edge watching the sunset and taking more photos.
Then, he said, his wife had wanted to jump up to get the sun in the background of a photo.
He told the police she jumped, but hadn’t been happy with the photo. She jumped again and lost her balance and fell over the cliff edge.
Andrew, an experienced trail runner and triathlete, told the police he then shouted at bystanders to call for help while he went down to look for his wife.
Rescuers were astonished that he managed to scramble and free climb 100m down the treacherous mountainside of loose sandstone without falling to his death.
Although his wife was was unsighted, he managed to get about 9m from her crumpled body before a sheer cliff halted his rescue attempt, described by some rescuers as “heroic”.
Andrew told detectives he saw his wife’s body for the first time between the rocks on his way back up to Lookout Point.
Reports at the time revealed that the couple had been married for 14 months.
A concerned family source revealed that although Le Roux “married the man of her dreams” during a romantic Plettenberg Bay beach wedding on September 24, 2017, her marriage allegedly had faltered as early as May 2018.
“Even though they were working on their issues, Jolandi’s life was hell for the last six months of her life,” said the source who asked not to be named.
The stress landed her in hospital for 10 days in August. “She was deeply unhappy and lost a lot of weight. She weighed just 47kg when she died.”
Until recently, detectives were unaware that the couple allegedly had marital problems. Nor had they been told the couple spent up to an hour sitting in their car talking before getting out to take photos at Lookout Point.
Detectives have seen the photo taken seconds before Le Roux fell, but they have not been shown photographs taken of her before that.
“Everyone who has seen them says she looks sad,” said the source.
The detectives were also unaware that there were family members who still have unanswered questions about circumstances around her death.
Detectives have not yet established the exact spot where Le Roux slipped and fell to her death and there has been no reconstruction of the accident scene.
It has emerged that shortly before her death, Le Roux had her grandmother’s name tattooed on her wrist and explained that it was so that her grandmother could recognise her in heaven.
She also had the co-ordinates of Arch Rock near Keurbooms River tattooed on her torso because that was where she got engaged and where she wanted her ashes spread.
“There is so much that makes no sense,” said a family source. “There are all these loose ends. All we want is the truth.”
Andrew refused to talk about the accident. “I’m not saying anything out of respect to my wife. I don’t think she would want to be spoken about in the way that it has been explained what happened. It’s very hard reading information that’s not true.
“Revisiting this makes the long, hard journey to recovery only much harder, and offers no benefit to anyone.”
Witnesses can contact Captain Deon Bock at 0824692576.