Van Rooyen and the missing girls

Date: 07 Apr 2007
It is the SA tragedy that won't die, the "missing-girls case" linked to paedophile Gert van Rooyen and his lover Joey Haarhoff. This is a timeline of how the drama unfolded: 1979: Gert van Rooyen abducts two girls aged 10 and 13, takes them to Hartbeespoort Dam, strips them, forces them to perform lewd acts and punches them in the face when they resist. He dumps them in Pretoria West the next morning. He is later sentenced to four years' imprisonment for the abduction, sexual assault and assault of the girls. September 1983: Van Rooyen and his wife Aletta divorce. August 1 1988: Tracy-Lee Scott-Crossley (14) of Randburg disappears. She is later reported as having been seen climbing into a VW Beetle outside the Cresta shopping mall. December 22 1988: Fiona Harvey (12), of Pietermaritzburg, disappears. It is later found that the white Ford Bantam bakkie used in her abduction had the same sign painted on it as Van Rooyen's building-contracting business. June 7 1989: Joan Horn (12), of Pretoria, disappears. July 1989: Janet Delport (16), of Durban, disappears after being abducted in a mall by a blonde woman. Later found wandering around, distressed but unharmed. Weeks later, Rosa Piel (9), of Alberton, disappears. Van Rooyen is suspected but there is no evidence. September 22 1989: Odette Boucher (11), of Kempton Park, disappears. That same day, Anne-Mari Wapenaar (12), of Kempton Park, goes missing. Odette's home address, phone number and her class captain's badge as well as Anne-Mari's address and a key to her home are later found at Van Rooyen's home. September 29 1989: Kobie Wapenaar, Anne-Mari's mother, receives a letter from her daughter claiming that she and Odette had voluntarily run away to Durban with a pair of boys. It is suspected the letter was written under duress. November 3 1989: Yolanda Wessels (13), of Kempton Park, disappears. Haarhoff is her aunt. January 11 1990: Joan Booysen (16), of Pretoria, is abducted by Haarhoff from Church Square. Joan is taken to Van Rooyen's home, where she is handcuffed, drugged, indecently assaulted and locked up. She manages to escape and the police are notified. January 15 1990: Police staking out Van Rooyen's home give chase to a suspicious-looking white Ford Bantam bakkie that drives past the house. Pulling the bakkie over to the side of the road, Van Rooyen shoots Haarhoff, then himself. Both die at the scene. January 25 1990: A pedestrian spots a girl who looks like Tracy-Lee in the company of a young man near the Chelsea Hotel in Berea, Johannesburg. This is but one of a deluge of "sightings" of the missing girls. Investigators doubt its authenticity. May 7 1990: South African businessman Johan Blanche claims to have met three girls answering to the descriptions of Anne-Mari, Odette and Fiona at a fairground in Lusaka, Zambia. The girls claim to be Swedish but have South African accents. November 1997: Flippie van Rooyen (36) tells a Pretoria court his father had dumped children's bodies in acid after they were sacrificed in a satanic ritual. He claimed three apartheid cabinet ministers who met with his father in 1989 were involved in a paedophile ring. He claimed Joan Horn was murdered shortly after she was kidnapped. This week: Several sets of juvenile human bones are uncovered by storm damage from their sandy grave about 500m away from an Umdloti, North Coast, holiday resort believed to have been used by Van Rooyen and Haarhoff. By Michael Schmidt The Star 07/04/07