A decade-old case has finally been solved, thanks to the police’s new Western Cape Cold Case Investigation Unit.
Police have been tight-lipped about the team which came into existence in July 2021, and has now solved its first cold case.
It has also been established that the team is investigating two Truth and Reconciliation Commission cold cases.
The team includes seasoned detectives who hung up their badges, but police remain silent on their dynamics and successes.
It is also unclear how many cold cases are on their books and how many will receive attention.
In the past year, the Weekend Argus’s Cape Cold Cases has reported on stories dating back as far as 30 years ago. Some murders go back 18 years, such as that of five-year-old Rafique Hardien, and the more than two decade old murder of Rashanda Smith. Another is the mysterious disappearance of Matthew Ohlsson who vanished in March 1997.
Last year police also promised to prioritise these cases.
Police spokesperson, Captain FC van Wyk said: “the Cold Case Investigation Unit was established and implemented on July 1, 2021. The Unit currently resorts under the Provincial Head: Organised Crime. It has since been allocated two TRC matters and murders that resort under their mandate.
“The unit has also just received a conviction on a murder case in the Beaufort West Regional Court for a murder dating back to 2012. The above conviction in the Western Cape is reported to be the first conviction for any of the Cold Case Units, nationally.”
Last year Western Cape Police Commissioner, Lieutenant General Thembisile Patekile said a cold case docket would be given to the team to decrease the load of detectives currently at police stations.
Michelle Ohlsson, Ohlsson’s mother said the formation of a cold case team was long overdue.
“It is a good feeling that they are in existence because our children’s cases cannot be wiped out of people’s minds. If I could finance it, I would have opened an organisation which looks into cold cases because there are so many children’s cases which are overlooked,” she said.
Candice van der Rheede, the founder of the Western Cape Missing Persons Unit which helps to investigate cold cases, said many cases were shelved and never opened again.
“We welcome this initiative as we believe all families deserve closure and we are looking forward to working with this squad. Many cases are lying in the archives and some people are still missing and have not been found,” she said.