Nine-year cold case of missing farmer can be solved

FARMER Andrew Whittingdale, who has been missing from his farm since January 3, 2014.

FARMER Andrew Whittingdale, who has been missing from his farm since January 3, 2014.

Published Jul 1, 2023


CAPE TOWN: A private investigator who is working closely with the family of a Western Cape farmer who mysteriously disappeared nine years ago believes two of his labourers can assist with the case, and possibly solve it.

The two men, identified as Meshack Mphatsoane and Ernest Mphatsoane, were employed by farmer Andrew Whittingdale in January 2014.

Whittingdale, 56, was the owner of Makouvlei olive farm in Barrydale commonly known as “Egypt”.

ERNEST Mphatsoane could assist Leon Rossouw with his investigation.

A fresh account and chain of events that transpired on the day he vanished has been pieced together by seasoned investigator Leon Rossouw, who works on cold cases.

MESHACK Mphatsoane could assist Leon Rossouw with his investigation.

Last week, Rossouw travelled to Philippi, Cape Town, hoping to find fresh information on what happened.

Rossouw said he could not divulge much about what evidence he found in Philippi as it could jeopardise the case.

He, together with Whittingdale’s family, believe he is buried on his farm.

At the time of Whittingdale’s disappearance, his cellphone had been traced to Lesotho and his bank account emptied.

Rossouw said he was positive that the past employees could assist with the cold case.

“I believe these two Lesotho guys who worked on Egypt farm the day Andrew (Whittingdale) disappeared can assist with the investigation.”

He said the facts were that Whittingdale arrived with the two workers on the farm Egypt around 10am on January 3, 2014.”

Rossouw explained that Whittingdale parked his white Ford Ranger at the house of one of the other workers who also stayed on the farm Egypt but was on leave.

“After Andrew was reported missing, police found his bakkie at the same house with the keys in the ignition,” he explained.

“The only thing that was missing was the cash that Andrew had in the bakkie.”

According to Whittingdale’s sister, Helen Williams, R8 000 in cash had been left in the bakkie after he had sold a tractor.

Rossouw said there were witness claims of when he was last seen.

“According to the two Lesotho guys, they saw two men in a white BMW arriving on the farm and they saw Whittingdale climbing in the BMW and the vehicle left with him,” he said.

“Looking at the activity of his cellphone records, I believe whatever happened to him happened between 11am and 12pm the morning of January 3, 2014. “

Rossouw said what was more sinister was that on the same day by 12.19pm, the accountant of Whittingdale’s Egypt partner received a strange SMS requesting R200 000.

It read: "Please sent 200 000 k now"

He added that cellphone records could assist with who had been using it and who had stolen his money.

The farmer’s bank card was used on January 4 and his account emptied, and police had obtained a photograph of the person who had used it and issued a warrant which was later closed and Whittingdale’s family informed of the abrupt closure.

“Whittingdale’s cellphone was active until 5pm that day of January 3, 2014, communicating with the same cellphone tower since the morning when he arrived on the farm around 10am,” he said.

“Then it was switched off and only to be active again the following days around Montagu, Robertson, Ashton and Barrydale.

“His bank card was also used after he disappeared in Montagu and in Sterkspruit, close to the Lesotho border.

“The last time that Andrew' phone was active was on January 13, 2014 close to the Lesotho border and never switched on again.”

Whittingdale’s sister, Williams, said they were praying for a breakthrough and were disappointed in the police's shoddy work from the start.

She said a police detective who had been assigned to the case had let two individuals go before charging them or detaining them, which could have assisted with the case.

“These persons did not have papers to be in the country, so why were they not charged with that and detained?” she said.

“When his bank card was used, I was the one who obtained the footage, and not the police.

“There was a warrant issued and later my sister received a text message from the police that the case was closed.

“Someone is behind this ... someone who has money.

“I do not believe there was a forensic search on that farm for his remains.

“We need closure as a family.”

His other sister, Jane Whittingdale said they believed police had “let go” of vital evidence by not detaining two people.

Police spokesperson, Captain Frederick Van Wyk said the case has been filed until new information is received.

“We can confirm that the case was finalised and archived,” he said.

“However, as new information arises, the docket will be re-allocated to detectives to pursue new information and to expend investigation.”

* If you have any information, contact Leon at [email protected]

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