96-year-old mother makes public appeal to find son missing for 30 years

Adam Cornelius Willemse is being sought by his 96-year-old mother. Picture: Supplied

Adam Cornelius Willemse is being sought by his 96-year-old mother. Picture: Supplied

Published Jan 21, 2023


An activist who makes it his mission to reunite homeless people with their families is assisting a 96-year-old woman to find her long-lost son, who vanished three decades ago.

In December 2022, Rachel Willemse from Upington made a heart wrenching video with the help of her family, pleading to the public to help find her beloved son, Adam Cornelius Willemse.

Adam had been recruited by the South African National Defence Force 30 years ago and has never been seen again.

The family has since been assisted by Anton Oliver, a humanitarian who helps homeless persons in Cape Town to be reunited with their families.

Oliver has also been joined by the organisation, Track n Trace in the search.

The teams are now rallying together to conduct a massive search for Adam in the Green Point and Sea Point communities in February after he was apparently spotted there a few years ago.

In the video, the mother speaks to Adam asking him to return home and if anyone knows him or if they have seen him.

“Please for those who perhaps see him, or know him, contact me. Please my people. As I am sitting here my heart is broken because of my child. I only have two (children) left, it is him and one daughter.”

In the second part of the video, Willemse appeals to her son to come home.

“Do you all know how hard this is, it is very hard … please just come home, even if you just come so that I can see you, even if you do not want to stay,” she said.

Oliver told Weekend Argus he had a suspicion that he might have met Adam a few years ago while searching for another person.

“Rachel’s daughter also carried out a four-year search for her brother,” he said.

“As we understand, he left home in 1992 and that he had met a woman and had a child with her. The child died and he went on to meet another woman and had more children. He was last seen by this family in 1999.

“In 2021, at a shelter, during the vaccine rollout drive for the homeless in Sea Point, a man there said he was from Upington. We were busy with another case three to four years ago when I also met a man who said he was from Upington and had been gone from there 30 years ago.

“When the family asked me to help them find Adam, I immediately thought of this man and when I approached him, he said it's not him. I did not want to push.

“The family lost a brother and when I saw the photograph of that brother, I immediately said to myself that he looks like the man I had met at the shelter, as I understand they did resemble one another. We believe that Adam frequently used the shelters in those locations,” he said.

Track n Trace spokesperson, Elaine Saul confirmed they would be taking part in the search.

“We will be meeting with another woman who might be vital in giving us information about his whereabouts,” she said.

Weekend Argus