Monday, August 15, 2016

You be the Judge - How can Heinrich van Rooyen be guilty?

The First Chapter of Christian Botha's Book "Search for Truth" 


In March 2008, Heinrich van Rooyen, a disc jockey at a Knysna nightclub, was found guilty of murder in the first degree. The judge had decided that he had taken the lives of Jessica Wheeler and Victoria Stadler and he was consequently sentenced to two life terms in prison, without the possibility of parole.
South Africa’s renowned private investigator, Christian Botha, is convinced a police cover-up was manoeuvred and the wrong man was found guilty. His convictions in this case go against the findings of Judge Nathan Erasmus and of the Appellate Court of Bloemfontein. As the following story unfolds, you decide for yourself whether you think justice has been served. Or not.
It is not often that Christian Botha’s views are at variance with those of the judge in a case that he has investigated, and he has completed scores of cases across the years. But in this situation he begged to differ. There was the evidence before them, the statements of the witnesses and the findings of the forensic laboratories: Judge Nathan Erasmus read it one way, Botha read it in another. He and his team had also painstakingly collected and analysed evidence and they drew their own conclusions. He is still convinced that the wrong man was found guilty and was erroneously sentenced to a life of hell in a high security, overcrowded, boring, HIV/AIDS- rife and sodomy-riddled South African prison.
Both the trial judge and the Constitutional Court’s Judge Pius Langa, to whom Heinrich van Rooyen appealed in February 2009, agreed that the man they had in custody was guilty of the murders and that his sentence of 30 years would have to be served. Van Rooyen went to jail as a 23-year-old, full of life and joie de vivre. He will come out as a 53-year-old, jail-hardened, bitter old man who has lost the major portion of his life.
Botha does not agree with the decision that found him guilty of murder. After reading his findings and his conclusions and interpretations of them, and those of the court during the case, you consider your own verdict.


It started with a phone call to Botha’s new, first-floor office in Gonubie East London. He was sitting thinking, enjoying an early morning cup of coffee on 14 October 2005. Spike was not allowed to be there as the building’s proprietors felt it was unhygienic to have a dog in the office. Botha missed his company. This morning Botha had his feet up on his office desk and was talking to his colleagues, Daryl Els and Frans Molokome, who sat at their conference table before they each tackled their piles of case files.
               The telephone on Botha’s wooden desk rang shrilly. He had to answer it within two rings or it would send the call straight to the fax machine. He swung his legs down onto the floor and made a grab for the handset. He always laughed at himself for doing this. He was sure that clients must think him over-eager and rather desperate for work when he answered calls so quickly and breathlessly.
               ‘Christian Botha Private Investigations, CBPI,’ he now said. It was a man who didn’t want to give his name at first. This often happened so it didn’t faze Botha.
               ‘Have you heard about the murder of Jessica Wheeler?’ the caller asked.
               ‘No, should I have?’ Botha responded.
‘Her body was found in the grounds of St. George’s Anglican Church, Main Street, Knysna, shortly after 6:30 yesterday morning.  I am a businessman in Knysna,’ the man continued, ‘I think that this murder will tarnish the image of Knysna as a safe and exciting coastal holiday resort, especially now, with the Christmas holiday season just around the corner, and many of  us dependent on a good showing of tourists to the town. This might frighten them off and make them change their minds about coming here. 
‘I want to know if you will take on a private investigation into her death.  I have heard good things about you in the investigation field.’
               ‘Why would you want me?  Surely there will be a police investigation?’
               ‘Yes, there will be, but I still feel that you would be able to assist the Knysna police in finding a speedy solution to this murder,’ the man said. 
They talked about the matter for a minute or two and by this time the caller seemed to feel more comfortable with Botha. He loosened up and gave him his name, which he said was Kenneth Powell.
              Botha was surprised at the call and wondered at the man’s motive. Why did he, a businessman, want Christian to take on the case so quickly after the murder? Didn’t he have any faith in the Knysna Police?  Did he know something else more pertinent than the fear of the money-jingling tourists staying away?  Did he have another purpose, not yet revealed? Maybe he had a grudge against someone and wanted that person implicated in Jessica’s death? 
‘I fear the police might bungle the investigation,’ Powell told Botha. ‘They seem to bugger up everything they touch. I’d like you to get it over and done with as soon as possible. Jessica was NOT A FRIEND HE DID NOT KNOW HER a friend and I promised I’d be there if ever she got into trouble, but I wasn’t. I didn’t answer my phone in the middle of the night. I feel I owe her a speedy solution to this crime by finding the perpetrator and having him charged, at the very least. I am familiar with your reputation as a crime cracking PI who works quickly and thoroughly. I would like you to take on this investigation for me.’
               ‘Ok, I understand your feelings,’ Christian said. ‘I will help you, but I will have to compile a service contract agreement and settle on a price for a preliminary investigation so that me and my team of three can go to Knysna and begin our inquiry,’ Botha told him.
               Powell agreed to the terms and conditions and a week later he transferred the required funds into Botha’s business account; he also advised them where in Knysna they could stay at a reasonable price. The investigation could begin.
Powell specifically wanted to ensure that all the evidence collected by the police was coordinated correctly, and that the docket didn’t go missing. ‘I want you to help because I have a sneaky feeling that the police will mess it up,’ Powell said. ‘All the policemen in Knysna are running around investigating and questioning everyone they can see. I feel there is no proper coordination or planning to it, and this concerns me. I want you to make sure everything is handled correctly.
‘This could be a disaster for the image of our town if it isn’t solved soon. People will start thinking it isn’t safe to come here, and our businesses will be very hard pressed to make profits. We rely on the tourism trade for our living, and Christmas is our main tourist season,’ he said.
Botha was to hear this refrain over and over again in the coming months: ‘We don't want to scare the tourists away. They are our lifeblood.’ In fact, he deduced that quite a lot of what happened with regard to the police case was influenced by this desperation for a conviction. And the media pressure didn’t help the case either.
               Botha started his investigation while still in his office in East London. He made contact with a Captain Mapuma of the Knysna Police, the officer assigned to the murder, and told him that he had received a mandate from a businessman in Knysna to assist in the investigation of the Jessica Wheeler murder. Mapuma was very helpful and said he would be happy to give Botha and his team all the cooperation they needed.
               Botha and Els began by going through all the media reports they could find on the case. The newspapers gave them a fair idea of the crime: Jessica Wheeler, aged 18, a local girl who had been living with friends in Main Street, had been found brutally murdered in St George’s Anglican Churchyard, in Main Street, a few metres away from her flat.
The newspapers stated that she had been strangled and possibly sexually assaulted. Jessica’s jeans were off her body and laid out neatly on top of her. She was still wearing a black G-string and a black sleeveless blouse, with straps over both shoulders. She was found lying on her back, with her takkies placed beside her.
Jessica had no external, visible injuries but there was talk that she had suffocated from soil entering her windpipe and oesophagus and this might have meant that her head had been pushed down into the earth during the attack on her. This had caused her death by suffocation, not strangulation.
               That was all Botha’s team knew about the case, but he also deduced, as did Els, that she must have died lying on her face, with her nose and mouth pressed into the ground, or she would not have ingested all the sand which had suffocated her. She must thus, at some time after her death, have been turned over onto her back by the perpetrator, who then laid her clothes neatly over her body. What kind of killer would be that precise?
When the money had been deposited into Botha’s bank account he and his team of investigators packed their bags and left by road for Knysna. They included Christian himself, Daryl Els, Frans Swele Molokome and Play Adams. Botha felt that he needed this high powered team with him in order to work cooperatively alongside the police so that between them they could solve the case as quickly as possible. He worked with the police on all cases, and found this was often a very successful collaboration for both teams.     
Els had years of experience in the SA Police Service and the Scorpions and Botha acknowledged that he had learned a great deal from him over the years.
Frans, a Setswana, went along because he was able to expertly infiltrate black areas and shebeens, where Botha would stand out like a snowman in a coalfield.  Frans speaks five black languages, as well as fluent English and Afrikaans. Botha finds this helpful in any investigation; quite apart from the fact that Frans has years of experience. He had assisted the Brixton Murder and Robbery Squad in Johannesburg before joining Botha full-time in 2004.
Play Adams, a silver-tongued Coloured man from East London, has an intimate knowledge of the townships of the area and knows the people well. He has an excellent social manner and is good at gleaning information from people without them even knowing they have given it to him.
When Botha’s team arrived in Knysna they booked into their chalet and then phoned Captain Mapuma. He was in Durban on an investigation, so advised them to contact Captain du Toit from the Southern Cape Provincial office of the Police. Botha did just that and asked for permission to peruse the case docket to establish how far the police investigation had proceeded up to that point.
               ‘You can carry on with your investigation and share your findings with the SAPS,’ Captain du Toit said, ‘but you cannot see the docket and you cannot have any police information on this case.’ He was not friendly or cooperative.
This was a sudden change in the police’s attitude. After being initially very helpful, Christian now felt the police had cut their hands off. The most important aspect of any murder case is to get information from the scene of the crime, the autopsy report, the crime scene plan, evidence collected from the scene, statements from any witnesses and so on. Not to have access to this vital information was a major blow to the team. However, they didn’t let it stop them in their tracks. After discussing it they decided to continue and to visit the crime scene themselves, just to get an idea of the lay of land and to see if there were any CCTV cameras from the garage across the road that faced in the direction of the murder scene.
Next they employed a tactic which had often led to Botha gaining vital clues from eyewitnesses: they looked at the windows of flats opposite Jessica’s own flat and also opposite the churchyard, to see if there was any possible chance of finding a witness or a ‘curtain twitcher’ there, someone who might have been awoken during the night by an unusual noise or scream and who might, just might, be able to cast some light on what had happened.
‘ Jessica was ostensibly murdered in the churchyard in the middle of Knysna, along  Main Road, and all traffic passing through the town has to go via that road,’ Botha explained to the team. ‘The churchyard is visible to the street and I wonder if there was possibly anyone walking or driving past who might have seen something of interest in the churchyard that vital morning.’
That night they caucused in the chalet again, and shared their findings over yet another of Els’s superb dinners. This time lamb chops, chips and eggs. Later Botha decided to visit a good friend of Jessica’s in the town. He wanted to go alone so as not to intimidate or frighten her, as she may have been if his whole team had suddenly descended on her. He drove along the narrow Main Road in the dark of the early evening. It was Friday night and he saw the night people beginning to come out. A beggar here, car guards there; garage staff; young folk going to clubs in groups or alone; people passing and stopping at the robot before it turned green. Had anyone seen anything that had happened in the churchyard the night she was murdered there? Were there any eyes that had witnessed what had happened to Jessica?
Jessica’s friend was Sandy Cox and she lived at her boyfriend’s house in a suburb a short distance from the centre of town. Botha had phoned her to ask if he could visit her and she had given him directions to the house. She received Botha politely and pleasantly.
‘I want to see justice done for Jessica,’ she said to Botha, ‘and I will do anything I can to assist you.’  She invited him in for coffee and during their talk, with tears sliding down her cheeks, she told Botha that she knew that Jessica had sent a blank SMS to a local businessman  who owned a restaurant in town, in the early hours of the Friday morning of the murder, at about 2: 30.  She also said that cigarette ‘stompies’ had been found at the scene
‘How do you know that?’ Botha asked her.
‘I heard this from a policeman friend who was on the scene after her body was found early on the Friday morning,’ Sandy replied.
‘What  relationships did Jessica have? Did she have a boyfriend?’
‘No, not at this stage,’ said Sandy, ‘she had just broken up with her boyfriend, a journalist from Cape Town, and she didn’t have anybody regular in her life. She did have many friends and acquaintances though and was very popular. She also had a guy hanging around her, a young white police constable, Koos Roets, who liked her and followed her around a bit, but she didn’t reciprocate his affections, and was, in fact cross with him at that time...’ Sandy started crying again and she reached for a tissue.  Botha waited for her to stop. This information about Roets was of interest to him. Who was he?
‘Jessica was upset with Koos,’ Sandy went on, blowing her nose, ‘because she said that he had betrayed her when she had passed on some critical and secret information to him regarding drugs. He had become very drunk one night and blurted out boastfully that she was his “unregistered drugs informant.” This had upset her a lot and she was angry with him. She felt that this might have put her life on the line with the dealers and users that she had split on. She felt really bad that he had revealed her name in his drunken state. She didn’t want anything more to do with him, and told him so very plainly, but still he kept trying to come on to her.’
‘What happened after Jessica’s body was found?’ Botha asked. ‘What did her friends do?’
 ‘All her friends gathered together near the scene to comfort each other,’ Sandy told him. ‘The constable, Koos Roets, was there too, also crying along with her friends.’
‘What was the weather like here the day she was killed?’ Botha then asked. ‘Was it sunny? Raining? Windy? What?’ He knew that weather could affect evidence.
‘The morning of her murder was very hot,’ Sandy recalled. ‘It was one of the first days of summer and the day started hot and continued to warm up.’
               ‘About what time did you all go to the churchyard?’ Botha asked.
               ‘Probably about nine o’clock,’ Sandy recalled, ‘and it was already quite warm. Most of us were wearing short-sleeved shirts, but I specifically noticed Koos was still wearing his same clothes from the night before, which included a long-sleeved T-shirt. I noticed he was sweating and that his top lip was wet. He kept wiping it off with the back of his hand. He seemed really upset and cried and sobbed out loud in our presence. I thought he was a bit over the top, but then, who am I to say how another person should grieve?’
Botha wondered why the constable would have been wearing long sleeves on a hot day. Could it have been to hide possible injuries inflicted to his lower arms by a young girl struggling for her life? Was the constable hiding his arms? Why was he still in the previous night’s clothes?  He made a mental note to find out. Maybe he had tussled with Jessica and she had scratched his arms?  No clues would go without scrutiny. He decided he had found out all he could from Sandy at that point and decided it was time to leave. Thanking her for her cooperation he left to return to the team’s chalet.
After they had contemplated the case for a while the next morning, the team set out to find any possible witnesses to the activity in the churchyard. Botha and Els concentrated on the flats and buildings in the immediate vicinity of the churchyard. They knocked on doors and asked questions to see if anyone had seen or heard anything untoward that night, and particularly in the early hours of the morning.
‘One woman Daryl and I interviewed, in a flat directly opposite the churchyard, was a Mrs du Preez,’ Botha told Frans and Play later that night over supper.  ‘She said that she had been sleeping and had been woken in the early hours of the morning, between 2:30 and 3:00, by the sounds of a couple arguing. She said she could hear the raised voices of a man and a woman shouting at each other somewhere in the street below. She could make out that the woman repeatedly said to the man that he had “betrayed her.” She said it was quite cold, so she hadn’t got up to look out of her window and soon the voices had stopped and she had gone back to sleep.’
The next day Botha and Els’s first visit was to businessman Andrew Johnson, the acquaintance to whom Jessica had sent the blank SMS early in the morning.  They met at a coffee shop in town and asked him to tell them what had happened that night and why Jessica had called  him on her SMS messaging service and not anyone else. 
‘I had Jessica’s number saved on my regular cellphone but it was broken and in for repairs. As a result I was using my own SIM card in a borrowed phone. When my girlfriend and I woke up in the morning and I turned the phone on, there was a blank SMS from Jessica,’ Johnson explained. It had come  from a number which did not reveal the sender’s name and I didn’t recognise it.
‘Nonetheless, I saved the message and later that day, after the murder, I checked the SMS again, and found that it had come from Jessica. A little while ago, at a social event, Jessica, some of her friends and I had exchanged our cellphone numbers and I had laughingly told the girls that if ever they were in any danger, or faced any emergency, they should call me and I would rush to their aid. I now fear that this is what happened, but I was asleep at the time, didn’t know her message had come in, so couldn’t respond to her.
‘Maybe also it was because my name starts with an “A” and it was the first number saved on her phone? Who knows what she did in her final moments.’
Botha felt that the SMS was important as it gave an indication of the time line of  events during the night on which Jessica was murdered. Then he  mentioned something that really interested Botha.
‘Maybe you might like to interview a young car guard,  16-year-old, Jaco Kiewiets, who was working nearby in Main Road that night and who might have seen something,’ Johnson told Botha. ‘I took him to police inspector, Dries Burger, in case he could come up with anything that could cast light on this case.
‘The inspector said he had interrogated Kiewiets but later brought him back to me, saying there was nothing that he could tell him that had any bearing on the murder case,’ Johnson said, adding that he felt concerned about the answers given him by the police.   ‘Kiewiets had told me that on the night in question there had been a certain bald, white man with a young white girl, (later found to be Jessica Wheeler,) at the murder scene and that the two of them had stood together for some time, smoking cigarettes. He also said that minutes before he saw them light up their cigarettes another white man, whom he recognised, joined them for a while. As a result, I assumed that one or both of these men must have been involved in the murder.’
 Botha knew this was important information. His next action was to gather information about Jessica's movements on that night, before she was attacked. The team established that she had been at a local nightclub with friends from the time she had left her waitressing  job at about 23:00 until about 1:45, when she left on her own to go back to her flat in Main Road, about 100 metres from the club.
Play and Frans were sent out to try to locate the car guard, Jaco Kiewiets, and also to question all the other car guards they could find in that part of Main Road, near the churchyard.  Botha and Els set out to try and  find out what had happened to Jessica after she had left the club to walk back to her flat.
At the time she had been sharing her flat with a roommate, a man called Jake Homburg. That night Jake had invited two girls from overseas, who had arrived in Knysna from Durban that day, and whom he had just met, to stay over at the flat with him. He said that shortly after Jessica arrived home and was making herself a cup of tea, her cellphone rang and she answered it. She left the tea and immediately went downstairs and out of the front door of the flat. That was the last he ever saw of her.
‘This impulsive behaviour wasn’t unusual for her,’ Jake said. ‘There is a main entrance to the building, which was locked at the time. On many occasions when people came to the flat, they phoned Jessica on her cellphone to say that they were downstairs and to ask if she would go down and open the door for them. Which she did. Only this time, she didn’t come back into the flat but must have gone out with the person who phoned.’
At this time it  dawned on Botha and Els that the police captain they had come to see was probably still in Durban. It could mean that he was there to take statements from the two foreign girls who had stayed overnight with Jessica’s flatmate and who had since returned to Durban. It was possible that they could have witnessed the activity and confirmed Jake’s version of  Jessica’s  coming in and then going out again.
Frans and Play, in the meantime, had located the car guard, Jaco Kiewiets, and had spoken to him. They felt he had quite a bit to say that was pertinent to the case. They fetched Botha and Els who then also questioned Kiewiets. What they learned was that Kiewiets had originally approached Johnson with the information on the day after the murder.  Johnson had handed him over to Inspector Burger and he had then told the policeman his story.  He listened, asked him to show him the bald man, and then dismissed him.
Botha and Els asked Kiewiets to make a sworn affidavit of everything he observed that night. He agreed readily.
‘Early in the evening on 13 October, I was working as a car guard in Main Road,’ Jaco Kiewiets said in his affidavit, ‘I saw an argument taking place outside a nightclub. It was between a bald white man and an older woman, in the presence of a white policeman whom I knew was Koos Roets. After the heated quarrel, the bald guy threw the woman’s handbag into a white Toyota Tazz and she got into the car, into the back seat. The white policeman, Roets, got into the front passenger seat. They drove off and about an hour or so later, I saw the white Tazz returning to town, driven by the bald guy, with the policeman still in the passenger seat, but the girl was not with them. He parked behind the club in the back parking area, about 120 metres from the Churchyard. (The woman to whom Kiewiets was referring regarding the argument and the Tazz was not Jessica, but the  girlfriend of the bald man, Marie, Inspector Burger’s niece.)
‘Later I saw the bald guy talking to Jessica Wheeler in the churchyard. He was smoking a cigarette with her. I was working opposite them, in the road outside Lewis Stores, which was just across from the churchyard, so I saw them clearly. I had walked towards the police station to check the clock, to see what time it was, and I noticed them there. It was just after two o’clock in the morning. The policeman was nowhere to be seen at the time, or at least, I didn’t see him. Just the girl and the bald guy standing smoking and talking was all I saw as I walked past.
‘Inspector Burger asked me about it, and I told him the same story as I have told you,’ Kiewiets said. ‘He took me, in the back of a police car, to do a “pointing out” and to identify the bald guy. Which I did. He was on a balcony at his home, and was unaware of the “pointing out” at the time.
‘Who is that?’ Inspector Burger asked me. ‘Yes, that looks like the man,’ I said, ‘the one who was driving the white Toyota Tazz. I am sure it is him.’ Inspector Burger said the bald man’s name was Dick Doman.
               Armed with this information, Botha and his team immediately set up a meeting with the Southern Cape Commissioner of Police, at the Provincial Office in George. They passed on the information they had
received from Kiewiets. The Commissioner was very helpful and immediately set up a task team, appointing two detectives – Captain Coerecius from Mossel Bay and Inspector Toks Nomdoe from Plettenberg Bay. Botha and Els, along with the two policemen, were called to the Provincial Offices and were all briefed together. 
 ‘We questioned Kiewiets at various times over a four day period,’ Botha said later to Frans, ‘and his story never changed. We arranged for a lie detector test and he passed it with flying colours. We engaged a private company to do the polygraph, not the police. After exhaustive tests on the polygraph, we were convinced that Kiewiets was telling the truth, despite his youth. Later we even took him to the churchyard and had him point out exactly where he had seen what. Then we compared his evidence with the police ‘map’ of the crime scene, and saw that his observations had been completely accurate. He had definitely seen the bald man, Dick Doman, with Jessica in the churchyard that night.’

Botha decided that the team had made a breakthrough in the case, and he wanted to celebrate. They bought enough steak, chops and boerewors for a slap-up braai at their chalet. A few litres of Coke and ginger ale were also part of the meal: Christian doesn’t drink alcohol at all and while on the job, neither does his team.
 ‘Later we organised a pointing out ceremony, and I was able to take a lot of pictures of the relevant places,’ Botha explained. ‘We were also able to ascertain that Jessica and the man or men she was with, had all smoked the same brand of cigarettes. Their stompies had all been taken away,  presumably by the police. Later this proved to be the case, but no forensic tests were ever done on them, to see who had smoked them, as far as I can ascertain. This could have been vital evidence, along with the casts of their footprints, to prove that Heinie had not been in the churchyard with Jessica. But it never came up as the evidence was ‘lost’ or spoiled by all the constables stomping over the shoe prints at the scene at the time.
On  9 November Botha and his team found out that Stones, the nightclub where Jessica had been dancing with a disc jockey called Heinie, had a closed circuit TV system which filmed the dancers and patrons at the club, as well as all the exits and entrances, every night. They wondered if these tapes would reveal anything of interest to the inquiry, so they decided to go and see about it.
When they arrived they questioned the disc jockey, DJ Heinrich van Rooyen, known as Heinie, a  tall and very good looking young man with thick, wavy hair and a sophisticated, well groomed style. They noticed he was friendly to everyone and had open, honest, and cheerful manners. He also laughed often.
‘The tapes from our system have already been given to the police,’ Heinie told them, but he said he was willing to try to make a copy on a disc for Botha from the computer’s hard drive. He tried, but he was unable to do it because  he didn’t fully understand the computer’s system. He advised Botha to contact his boss, who was away at the time, the following day.
Remarkably, despite what allegedly transpired later, these tapes never surfaced again, not even in the court case which was so critical to Heinie’s future. They could have proved that what he had said about going out and coming in again with Jessica during the evening was true.
The police said they ‘couldn’t find them’ and that they had inexplicably ‘gone missing’.  The missing tapes failed to become an issue with the court, perhaps to Heinie’s detriment: they might have saved him from a lifetime in jail.
Botha and Els didn’t think at the time that it would be necessary to get  copies of the tapes for the police because they had already established an eye witness, Kiewiets, who had seen Jessica and Dick Doman in the churchyard at around 2:00 on the night of the murder. According to Kiewiets’ affidavit, they were talking, not arguing, in the spot that was later to become the murder scene.
At no time did Botha or Els think that Heinie van Rooyen might have been a suspect in the case. He hadn’t ever seemed nervous, shifty or tense to them. Quite the opposite. Any emotions indicative of fear or culpability, sliding eyes which wouldn’t meet theirs, a sweaty upper lip or shaky hands, might have alerted them to his possible involvement, but they picked up none of this in his demeanour. He certainly displayed no signs whatsoever of being a guilty man with an awful secret.
‘We spent a considerable period of time with him,’ Botha said, ‘and we had a very frank and wide ranging discussion with him. He seemed at ease, happy and confident.
‘Did you find Jessica sexually attractive?’ Els had asked him bluntly at one point during the course of their discussions.
‘Yes, I did. She was a lovely girl,’ van Rooyen had told him.
‘Did you have sex with her at any time?’
Van Rooyen was rather shy about it, but he told Botha and Els that at some time during the evening, when everyone was rocking in the nightclub, he and Jessica had slipped out into the club’s nearby parking lot, and in a deep shadow had enjoyed a ‘quickie’. It was somewhere between midnight and 00:35. They had stood up against the wall and she put her arms around him, under his shirt as she hugged him. Maybe she had even scratched his back a little in a heightened moment of passion. Some girls do. His back was never examined. Afterwards Heinrich went back to Stones and she went to Zanzibar, where she had left her bag earlier that evening.
Christian, Daryl and Heinie, all laughed about it at the time and thought Heinie was a lucky man.
              It was obvious to them that Heinie was quite a ladies’ man and rather fancied himself with the white girls. This was a fact later picked up by the media once the DJ was officially accused of the crime. He was named a Don Juan and a Casanova . But that did not make him a killer.
 ‘Sometime during the evening,’ the DJ said, ‘after having returned to Stones, Jessica left Stones with a female friend and again went across to the Zanzibar club over the road. She often popped in and out again, and it didn’t concern us or make us feel that she was doing anything untoward when she didn’t return to Stones again that night. Later on I went over to Zanzibar and found that Jessica was now on her own. Her friend had felt ill and had left. When I left the club to go home,  Jessica was speaking to Darren Korkie, the DJ of Zanzibar. That was the last I saw of her.’
By this time the police had an interest in van Rooyen and before long they took him in for questioning. He was soon released for lack of evidence linking him to the murder. He did not tell them that he had had sex with Jessica during the evening that she was killed.  He felt, at the time, that his sex life and that of Jessica, was private.
How wrong he would be. Little did he know this would later be used against him in a most devastating way.
In addition to Heinie van Rooyen, the policeman Koos Roets and his bald friend, Dick Doman, were also called into the police station by Inspector Burger for questioning after the car guard, Kiewiets, had given his affidavit and placed them at the scene of the crime on that fateful night. Botha and Els were both invited to sit in on the interviews and they accepted.
‘These two suspects were very different indeed from our friendly, sunny DJ,’ Botha said later to Frans and Play, ‘they were both fidgety and seemed panicky, and neither of them could look us straight in the eye. Doman smoked about thirty cigarettes in as many minutes, while his upper lip dripped sweat and his hands shook. The young constable was trembling visibly, so much so that he couldn’t keep his hands still. Roets fidgeted with everything –  his clothes, his sleeves, his hands, his face – and his lips quivered. He could hardly answer any questions, his voice was soft and weak.  He hesitated before answering the questions. He seemed so upset that he wrung his hands and cried several times. Tears ran down his cheeks and sobs escaped his body.
‘To me they both looked nervous, jittery and quite frankly, guilty,’ Botha told Frans and Play. ‘They also lied, because, in answer to the question about what they had done after they had had the argument in the street with Marie, where Doman had thrown her handbag into the car and they had all driven off, he said they had gone home and had not come back into town again. That was a complete fabrication, and was in direct contrast to the eye witness report given by the car guard, Kiewiets who said the two men, the bald guy and the young constable, had both come back to town and parked the  car.  The police didn’t ask them about this discrepancy. They were released and told to be on their way.
Botha and Els were astounded, as were Frans and Play. They were convince that Kiewiets was a reliable witness and had seen what he had said he had seen and placed these two men squarely at the murder scene on the night Jessica was killed.
After this police interview, Botha decided that they had finished their preliminary investigation, fulfilled their brief, and according to their investigations, found the alleged suspects as witnessed by the car guard. They were satisfied that the killer or killers had been identified to the police. Their job was done. The rest was now up to the police and the court when they tried the suspect/s.
Christian called Kenneth Powell, the client who had hired him and his team, and reported all their findings to him.  Powell was satisfied. He too thought that was the end of the matter, short of the actual court case.
For Botha and his team was now time to go home. They drove back to East London, taking turns at the wheel.
Once back in the office they produced their written report for businessman Powell, as was customary. They always gave the clients a hard copy of their findings and specifically noted down what the car guard, Kiewiets, the DJ, Heinie van Rooyen, and others had told them.
Before they left, however, with Botha believing firmly that working closely with the police was the only way to go, handed all the team’s information over the SAPS in Knysna, satisfied that they had done all they could to help identify Jessica’s probable killer or killers. They expected that Dick Doman and Koos Roets would be investigated further.
Once more they were wrong.
Neither of these men was ever apprehended as possible suspects, or charged by the police, and neither had any DNA samples taken from them, not even to see if it was their saliva, along with Jessica’s, that was found on the stompies picked up by the inspectors at the murder scene on the day.
Botha and Els were amazed at this turn of events. To them it had seems the two cronies lied about everything. They felt that definitely one, or possibly both of them,  were involved in Jessica’s death.  They felt that for some reason not known to them, there was some kind of a cover-up going on here. Who is being protected, they asked themselves. And why? Why did the police not  seem not to believe the eye witness, Kiewiets. Was it because he was so young, only 16, held a lowly job, and was a coloured? Would he have been better believed if he had been 16, white, and a farmer’s son? Was this some kind or racism, or was there something else behind it, something they didn’t know about?
Botha was sure the truth would come out somewhere down the line, especially in court. Truth would always out, wouldn’t it.
How wrong he would be on this score too, but he didn’t know it at the time.
Botha didn’t count on top Police Services Director X* being put in charge of the investigation, and the local police being taken off it. For Botha and Els this was the second time in as many months that their detective work had been pitted against that of Director X*. They had also worked on the Inge Lotz murder case in Stellenbosch in which Fred van der Vyver had been wrongfully arrested and charged with her murder.  Director X* had led the investigation into that girl’s death, a case for which he was highly criticized by the High Court judge.  In the Lotz trial much of the evidence the police presented to the court was found to be flawed or deliberately planted. The alleged suspect they put on trial, Fred van der Vyver, was eventually exonerated and found not guilty. Fortunately his parents were able to fund his cripplingly expensive court case to see that justice was done for their son. He had been at work all day and was nowhere near the scene of the crime, although he was the one accused of killing his girlfriend. So suspect was the material presented that his parents had flown in forensic and other experts from the United States to verify or discredit the evidence presented to the court by Director X*.
Ultimately Fred was found not guilty.
With Director X* now in the driver’s seat again, Botha was afraid this sort of thing might happen here too.  The wrong suspect could be taken into custody in the rush to find a culprit. Evidence could be planted or wrongly interpreted, or even deliberately falsified.               Certainly the Knysna townspeople wanted a convicted criminal, and fast, before the rumour of a serial killer ruined their businesses.
In addition,  racism also seemed to have raised its ugly head and played a part. Heinie van Rooyen was a coloured man; the townspeople, the Judge and Director X* were white. Botha and Els feared Heinie might be condemned by this fact alone, before his trial had even begun. They dreaded the thought.

On 14 November 2005, back in East London once more, Botha and Els read in the newspapers that another young girl, Victoria Stadler, had been murdered in Knysna. She had been missing for five days and had been killed on the same night that they had interviewed the DJ, Heinie van Rooyen. She was allegedly killed during the early hours of Thursday, 10 November, 2005.
The team followed the case through the newspapers but their interest was purely professional and objective. Nobody hired them to do any further sleuthing but all this changed for them when  Heinrich van Rooyen was unexpectedly arrested and charged with the murders of both Victoria Stadler and Jessica Wheeler.
The police alleged in the media that  ‘the DJ, Heinrich van Rooyen was the last person to have been seen with both of the victims just before their deaths.’
 ‘This cannot be true,’ Christian exclaimed to Daryl, who was equally shocked. Van Rooyen was the least likely suspect. Sure, he was sexy, liked the girls and was flattered by the attention they gave him. But a murderer? No!  He simply adored girls too much to hurt them. It seemed a preposterous allegation to Botha and Els. They had interviewed him in depth; checked out his personality; watched him at the disco where he worked as the DJ; seen the dozens of young women flocking round him; seen how tenderly and gently he treated them; they simply couldn’t credit the allegation that he might be a cold-blooded killer. It didn’t seem possible. 
He was promiscuous – yes.  A glamour boy – yes.  A murderer – no, not likely.
 ‘It is unbelievable,’ Botha said to Els and Frans. He was aghast. ‘And it’s not true that he was the last person to be seen by witnesses with both of the girls. We know for a fact that Kiewiets had seen Doman and Roets in the churchyard with Jessica. So had the bread truck driver Mr. Minnie. Neither of them mentioned Heinie being on the scene at the time.’
The office went quiet as each of the men gave the arrest deep thought. Then Botha broke the silence. ‘We should phone Captain Coerecius.’ He reached for the phone and dialled. He was soon put through.
‘What on earth is going on there?’ Botha asked, ‘Why have you taken the DJ into custody? Surely you can’t think he is the perpetrator?’
His reply was simple. ‘I am no longer involved in the investigation and the task team is no longer investigating these murders. It has now all been handed over to Police Director X*. We believe he was given the case directly by Commissioner Petros, who is the Western Cape Commissioner of Police based in Cape Town,’ Coerecius concluded.
Botha’s heart contracted at the news.  He didn’t trust this police director at all. If Director X* and his team could construct evidence against van der Vyver, to the point even of lifting a fingerprint on a round water glass and relocating it to a flat DVD cover, to ‘prove’ that Fred was there, when he wasn’t, what might Director X* and his team do to construct their own scenario of  ‘a serial on the loose’ with their remanded in custody suspect, Heinrich van Rooyen? 
 Botha and Els  knew that the Knysna municipality and the Knysna residents were desperate to find a killer and put him behind bars, so that the town could regain its pristine reputation as a safe and secure holiday venue. They didn’t want a serial killer wandering around. In fact, nobody did, least of all Botha and Els. To blame an innocent person, however, and be involved in a  miscarriage of justice as they had been in Fred van der Vyver’s case, was totally unacceptable. Botha and Els were not pointing any fingers here, but they had their reservations.
Botha contacted Heinrich van Rooyen’s father, Izak, and explained to him that his team had done the preliminary investigation into Jessica Wheeler’s case, and that they had found that other possible suspects had been pointed out by a witness. Consequently they didn’t believe that Heinrich could have done it. They couldn’t disclose anything  about Victoria’s case, but they were pretty sure of themselves regarding  Jessica.
Heinrich’s father was interested in hiring their services. Botha’s team was assembled once more and they headed back to Knysna, having been paid a retainer by van Rooyen’s attorney, Daan Derckson, for a preliminary investigation into Victoria Stadler’s murder. While on the road they discussed the matter and decided it would be a good move to try to strengthen the evidence of the young car guard, and  in this way satisfy themselves that their preliminary findings in that case were correct. They all believed that the DJ was not involved in any way.

In the meantime, there had been another murder in Knysna: this time it was a man, Peter McHelm, who had been strangled near the Knoetzie Forest. They wondered if Heinie had now also been accused of murdering McHelm.
              Since the bodies of both McHelm and Stadler  were found in the same vicinity, they thought  it was possible that the same person or persons had murdered them both.  They felt it was most likely  not the same perpetrator who had killed Jessica in the churchyard a month before. They knew for sure that it could not have been Heinie van Rooyen who had killed McHelm that afternoon because his alibi was rock solid.  They were also aware that forensic evidence had been taken at the two girls’ crime scenes though they had no knowledge of the outcome of those tests. They did not know whether the two girls had been sexually abused. Only time and forensic science would tell.
On arrival in Knysna Botha and Els interviewed members of the charming and gracious van Rooyen family in their home in Hornlee, just outside the town. Heinie lived with his parents, Izak and Rebecca van Rooyen, his common law wife of five years, Nadia Nel, and their two children, a four-year-old and a baby of eight months.
From their discussions with the family they learned that one of the first policemen on the scene of Jessica Wheeler’s murder in the churchyard was a dog handler with more than 20 years’ service in the police force, Inspector Danie Petersen.  The policeman had told the family that on arrival at the scene where Jessica’s body had been found, he had noticed three sets of shoe prints in what he referred to as the ‘struggle zone’ in the churchyard. One of these prints matched Jessica’s shoes; another  was an imprint of a common takkie, while the third was a sole print of a Hi-Tech hiking boot.
Botha and Els immediately decided to meet with Inspector Danie Petersen. 
‘Yes,’ he confirmed, ‘I did see three sets of foot prints in the dirt at the edge of the garden where Jessica must have been attacked One set was made by Jessica’s shoes, which had been neatly placed beside her body, so I knew the prints were definitely hers, and those of a pair of ordinary men’s takkies, and those made by  a pair of men’s Hi-Tech hiking boots.
Petersen added that,  ‘When police officials visited the crime scene, they discovered that a patch of garden near the place where her body had lain, had been disturbed. On closer examination, they determined that it was in all likelihood the exact spot where Jessica had been attacked and her head pushed down into the sand, face forwards. She had then inhaled the soil which clogged her nostrils and airway, resulting in suffocation and death.
‘Nothing had been stolen from her: she still wore her rings, earrings and her necklace, and her cellphone was next to her.’
               The three sets of footprints had been clearly visible when he arrived at the scene, Petersen confirmed. He had asked a detective to call for Inspector Hector from George to come and ‘lift’ the shoe prints. Meanwhile Petersen placed some sticks around them in a vain attempt to stop the police constables who arrived at the scene, from trampling them.
‘If lifted by means of plaster casts, these three sets of footprints would have played a vital role in linking the two male suspects, as identified by the car guard, to the scene of the crime,’ Inspector Petersen explained to Botha and Els.  The PIs wondered  if any detailed photographs of the shoe prints, that might indicate size and dimension and type of shoes, had been taken.
               ‘No, unfortunately not,‘ Petersen said. ‘I didn’t have a camera with me, or a cellphone. Unfortunately when I returned about an hour and a half later, I saw swarms of people all over the yard, and the sticks I had put in to protect the prints, had been flattened. I checked and saw they had been obliterated by other people’s boots and shoes. I was very disappointed to find that Inspector Hector was still on his way. By the time he arrived the prints had vanished.’ Petersen was visibly upset by this fact.
 Botha and Els shook their heads in disbelief at this news. How could policemen be so incompetent as to trample on vital evidence at a crime scene?  In this case, though, a small element of suspicion arose in Christian’s mind. He wondered if this action was the result of ignorance and lack of training on behalf of the constables, or if it was a deliberate attempt to eliminate incriminatory clues? Perhaps it had been a calculated attempt at a cover-up? Botha had discovered that Doman was dating Inspector Burger’s niece, Marie. Could this have been a factor to protect Doman and police constable Roets.          
Doman’s criminal record showed that his previous girlfriend had registered a case of domestic violence against him, but he was found not guilty and was acquitted. Doman had also, according to his records, previously been charged with murder, but the case had been withdrawn against him as he had turned a ‘204 State Witness.’ For that he had received amnesty from prosecution for his information in the case.
If he had killed once, and it was on record, even though he had been let off scot free, could he possibly have killed again, Botha speculated. This led him to explain later to Frans and Play that, ‘from what I have found out I am under the impression that Doman, who was the last person the car guard saw with Jessica in the churchyard that night, has some violent tendencies.
This was later confirmed by people who knew Doman. Colleagues who  spoke to Botha at Doman’s place of work described him as having a “moerse short temper,’ and not a man whom they would easily like to cross.
Botha  recalled that on the day after the murder of Jessica, an Afrikaans newspaper, Die Burger, had printed a picture of her friends sitting together at the crime scene. In one of the photographs Koos Roets had his one leg crossed over the other and his Hi-Tech hiking boot was clearly visible. He now wondered if Doman was in possession of an ordinary pair of canvas shoes, takkies, or if van Rooyen had a pair as described by Petersen, in his shoe cupboard?
               Botha decided to first check if Heinie van Rooyen owned either of the two types of shoes, a Hi-tech hiking boot or a pair of canvas takkies. Christian approached van Rooyen’s mother, Rebecca, who helped him to gather all the shoes her son possessed. There were no Hi-tech’s and no canvas takkies in his cupboards. She explained that he preferred leather-soled shoes which were easy to dance in, and which facilitated his job as a DJ.
              Botha then visited the prison where Heinie was incarcerated, and  checked all the shoes Heinie had with him. He found there were no matches there either. Heinie told Christian he had never owned a pair of Hi-tech hiking boots and usually preferred leather slip-ons which were easy to boogie in.
               Christian photographed the soles of all the shoes Heinie owned, and a few more besides. He planned to do a ‘line-up identification parade’ of the soles with Inspector Petersen. He pasted them all into a photograph album, interspersed with the soles of the different shoes. He arranged for a former member of the Scorpions, who was not in any way involved with the case, to conduct this unusual ID parade with Inspector Peterson. Peter Radue, from East London, was asked to do the honours.
‘Please identify the three pairs of shoe prints you saw in the earth at the crime scene,’ Radue asked Inspector Petersen. The Inspector bent to the task and looked intently at all the shoes in the album line-up.
‘None of them is here,’ he said eventually, ‘I don't recognise any of the soles of these shoes. These were not at the crime scene.’
Botha was elated. The Inspector did not identify any of van Rooyen’s shoes as those which he had seen at the death scene. Unfortunately, Botha knew that despite the Inspector’s confidence in what he had, or had not seen, this evidence could not be tested in a court of law. No moulds had been taken of the shoeprints at the scene and no pictures had been taken of them either. But he felt that Petersen’s testimony completely exonerated Heinie of being in the scuffle that night. Petersen, as an inspector, would surely have credibility as a witness? It was not to be, as he had no moulds or pictures as proof.

‘In my role as a uniformed policeman and dog handler, I am not issued with a detective’s camera,’ Petersen explained. ‘I rely on the Crime Scene Manager to do that. It is what is expected of him or her, and it is what they are trained for. But unfortunately on this day, it didn’t happen. Nobody took any pictures or made any casts of the shoe prints in the garden where I had marked the spot with the sticks.’
Botha often wished that the South African police had the kind of equipment with which American crime scene detectives are routinely issued: a spray can of quick drying wax to set the foot or tyre print sharply in the sand, and a small bag of dental cement to pour into the mould to set it ‘in stone’. This enables detectives to immediately lift any suspect prints. Maybe the determined and energetic new police chief, Beke Cele, will make it happen, along with better training in crime scene work. Botha certainly hopes so.

But now, back to the second girl’s death, of which Heinie also stood accused. They went over the facts again. Her body had only been discovered five days after she had disappeared. This was four days after the body of the other murder victim, Peter McHelm, was found about 900 metres from where her body had lain in same vicinity in the Knoetzie Forest.  McHelm was found with his hands tied; he had possibly been sodomised and strangled, according to the police reports. His car had been stolen and was still missing.
               The police estimated that he had died on the day before he was found.  This would mean that both Stadler and McHelm were murdered within the same 24 hour period. Both bodies had been hidden under bushes, indicating a similar modus operandi and suggested to Botha and Els that both Stadler and McHelm had been murdered by the same individual or individuals.
They were very interested in the possible link between the two cases, that of McHelm and Stadler. Both were different from Jessica’s murder. She had been suffocated. McHelm was strangled. Victoria had two decisive stab wounds in her neck.
The police took forensic evidence from Jessica’s body, and later from McHelm and Victoria’s. They  sent it away for analysis. One of the inspectors made a video recording of the murder scene with Victoria’s decomposing body in it. This was later to shock the court rigid with revulsion.

Two thousand kilometres away in Makhado, formerly Louis Trichardt, Victoria Stadler’s mother, Hannetjie Stadler, quietly loaded her suitcases onto a bakkie for a drive to Knysna. She must bring her child back with her, she murmured to herself.  She had never felt comfortable with her on her own in Knysna and had never understood why Victoria had wanted to go so far away from home. Her conviction that she should drive down and retrieve her daughter was strengthened when she received a jumbled voicemail message from her.
               ‘Nee! Dis nie so nie!’  (No! It’s not on!) Victoria says decisively in Afrikaans. Then there are voices in the background and what sounds like moaning, followed by the phone being put on hold. And then silence.
               Hannetjie told the police later that she ‘didn’t think too much of the message. I thought that  Victoria was probably at work, dealing with a difficult customer, and had sent the message by accident. She didn’t sound scared or panicky.  I  didn’t have any premonitions that my daughter might be in any kind of trouble. I thought that maybe Vicky had phoned because she needed a bit of cash for food or airtime, so I put some money into her  bank account the next day.’
              Later that same day she decided she might as well drive from her home to visit her only child to see if she could perhaps persuade her to come home. 
               Apart from anything else, Vicky’s mom wanted to tell her about the death of her favourite horse. Vicky was a great animal lover, and had a number of dogs as well as her beloved mare at home. She would cry for days if she knew that this special animal had died in her absence and Hannetjie didn’t want her to hear the news over the phone. She lived on a plot with 62 of Victoria’s rescued animals to keep her company, all of them cherished and special.
               It would be a two day journey but if she brought her daughter back with her she would need to use the bakkie rather than the car, to transport all her luggage. Her mom loaded Victoria’s two favourite dogs onto the back of the vehicle, knowing Vicky would be delighted to see them. It would be an unexpected surprise.
               During her drive to the Eastern Cape coast Hannetjie said she had not had the slightest inkling that her daughter was anything but perfectly healthy and well. Halfway through her journey she stopped off for a break and later still stopped to visit her mother in Mossel Bay, where she left the dogs. Then she drove on contentedly.  She had no premonition, no forewarning that her baby was, in fact, already dead and had been so for some days.
 ‘I was thinking that I was going down to find her and take her back home with me,’  Hannetjie told Lauren Cohen, a reporter from The Cape Argus, ‘that’s why I took the bakkie.  But that didn’t happen.’ She was badly shocked when she arrived in Knysna, to find that her precious daughter had been brutally murdered several days before. ‘She was such a special girl,’ Hannetjie told the reporter.  ‘She spoke to me every day of my life, on the phone. We laughed a lot, she was very funny, the light of my life. I have so many sweet memories of her. I can hardly believe this has happened.’
               The Wheeler family, Jessica’s parents, Kevin and Dusty Wheeler, phoned Hannetjie Stadler to offer her their condolences. They too, had cruelly lost their daughter in a Knysna murder and were devastated by her death. Hannetjie was shown a picture of their daughter, Jessica and was immediately struck by the similarity in appearance between the two girls.
               ‘When I first saw the picture of Jessica I thought she was my own child, but then realised this girl had freckles. They looked like sisters.’ 
               The media began to speculate that there was a ‘serial killer’ on the loose in Knysna. By implication young girls who frequented discos alone at night were all at risk.
               Botha and Els noted other similarities: they were both working as waitresses, they were both brunettes, they loved to dance, they were night owls and they frequented both the Stones and the Zanzibar night clubs. But neither Botha nor Els felt there was a ‘serial killer’ on the loose. They were convinced that one of the men – or both – seen with Jessica in the churchyard must have been involved in her murder. 
               The emotional temperature in the sleepy, formerly safe and apparently sound little coastal holiday village began to rise. People became afraid. The town’s advertisers and promoters were desperate for a solution before tourism to the village diminished or anyone else was killed. The pressure to find a killer escalated. Everyone wanted a solution, and fast.
               So too, did the police.
              The blow of her daughter’s death at only 20, was too much for Hannetjie Stadler. She disappeared at once into a seaside retreat to try to come to terms with this hideous loss of her only, beloved child. Such a senseless crime.   Hannetjie spent hours staring at the sea, silent and speechless. Quite naturally she was not interested in speaking to the media, or giving any interviews.
               A week later, when she emerged from her retreat, she talked of the voicemail message she had received from her daughter in the middle of the night. She said that she thought the call had probably been made inadvertently while her daughter was fighting off her assailant. She simply had not realised it. Victoria hadn’t sounded stressed, just annoyed.
               Once she realised that the Knysna police were handling the case, Hannetjie Stadler contacted a Pretoria private investigator to assist.  This PI added fuel to the fire after studying the two girls’ murder cases. He commented to the press that the possibility of a single murderer was being investigated because there were so many similarities between the cases of Victoria and Jessica, but stressed that he was co-operating with the police.
               This put a match to the kindling and the whispers of a possible ‘serial killer’ began catch fire and do the rounds. Soon it was a raging bush blaze. The press latched onto this sensational bit of pure speculation. Front pages were splashed with it. The killer had to be found at all costs, and soon!   The grieving parents, of course, were also eager to identify a suspect,  but for another reason.
               ‘I wanted to find my daughter’s murderer as quickly as possible,’ Hannetjie said to Lauren Cohen. ‘I am going to go home to Makhado but I want to return to Knysna if a suspect is found and charged. I want to see the eyes of the guy who took the life of my child. I am confident that the private investigator that I hired from Pretoria will find the killer, even if the police don’t manage it.’
               Up to that time the police’s investigations had drawn a blank.  Heinrich van Rooyen had been held for questioning but had been released due to lack of evidence linking him to the murders. He had allegedly been seen with both of the girls, dancing in the Zanzibar Club on the night each of them was murdered. He had asked Victoria for a lift home in her car after his shift at the nightclub and she had driven him to the outskirts of Hornlee. They had parked outside the ‘Chinese Shop’ just outside the entrance to the township because he didn’t think it was safe for Victoria to drive out of Hornlee alone. They chatted and ‘made out’ for a while, before Heinie left the car and walked home.  They waved goodbye to each other but what she did after she left him he did not know. He went straight home.
               Izak van Rooyen, Heinie’s father, is highly respected in his community and occupation, as is his shop clerk wife, Rebecca. He is the retired former head of Correctional Services in Knysna, and Heinrich is the third of their four children. According to Izak, his children were brought up knowing right from wrong, and they knew how bad it was to land up in jail. None of them doubted his word for a minute and all seemed to tread the straight and narrow. They never did drugs or joined any gangs, and they had a built-in horror of becoming involved in crime and going to jail. It would be the worst thing that could happen to them.
               Heinrich’s job as a DJ meant that dozens of young girls admired him and flung themselves at him and now and then he indulged in a bit of quick fornication with one or other of them. Nothing much to worry about in a land of wholesale polygamy and modern cultural norm of babies before wedlock.  Izak told Christian that none of Heinie’s sexual relationships lasted very long since he was very attached to Nadia and their two children, and most of the girls he had made love to went on to become good friends. He loved women with a passion and was a real stud.
               This came as no surprise to Christian and Daryl. It was obvious to them that Heinie was indeed a ladies’ man and at the peak of his powers.  He was a tall, good looking, virile and vigorous man. They had seen for themselves how girls of all colours, but particularly white girls, crowded around him, clamouring for his attention.
               According to journalist Ella Smook of The Cape Argus, one of his school friends reported that ‘he had been a bright student who always battled another friend for the top spot in class’.  She echoed reports that ‘he had a preference for white girls’ and said that even at school, he had shunned ‘our (coloured) nation’. He had rarely missed a day of school at Fraaisig Primary, where Ella had been in his class, or at Knysna Secondary School, which she also attended. ‘He was always very neat, his shirt tucked in and his shoes shiny and clean.’
               Christian and Daryl could see that to young, protected, naïve white girls like Jessica and Victoria, without any real experience of life, the DJ was glamour personified. He had the moves and he had the music – and then some. Young girls couldn’t get enough of him. He loved the adoration and was friendly and charming to everyone.
               Botha and Els set out to find out what had happened to Victoria Stadler after she had dropped off Heinrich van Rooyen that night. They didn’t doubt that the two of them had parked  the car and ‘smooched a bit’ before he left the car and walked home. But what had she done, or what had happened to her after he left, they needed to find out. 
               At that time the police were still waiting for the forensic evidence in both the girls’ murder cases. When the results of those tests came back, perhaps there would be a breakthrough. It was possible that some evidence which would point to a perpetrator would be found on their bodies. They could but wait and see.
              For now, however, what they did confirm was that the investigation into Victoria Stadler’s murder had begun when, on the morning of 10 November, at 5:30, the Forestry Department of Knysna contacted the police to tell them that they had discovered a burning vehicle on a side road off the main Knoetzie road into the forest. They requested that the police come out immediately since they didn’t know where the driver and / or passengers were. The car was a white VW Golf – which was later identified as Stadler’s.
When, by 8:00, the police had still not arrived, the Forestry Department phoned them again. Shortly after 9:00 an Inspector Appels of the SA Police Service in Knysna arrived at the scene of the burned out vehicle. He was the first member of the police to do so – three hours after the Forestry Department’s first phone call.
              After Inspector Appels had looked around a bit at the ruined vehicle, he kicked the sand in the road once or twice with his boot, and he left the scene. He took no photos nor any notes. He didn’t stray into the forest to look for a driver or any passengers who might have been there, alive, injured or dead. He did not string any ‘crime scene’ tape around the wreck. No arrangements were made for the vehicle to be taken into police custody. He made no effort to find the driver, or identify the owner, or establish why the vehicle had caught fire. The scene and the immediate vicinity were never searched. 
               On 15 November, 2005, a Tuesday,  Izak Swarts, another Hornlee resident, who had read in the papers that a young girl and her vehicle had been reported missing, contacted the Knysna police and told them he had seen a burned out VW Golf off the main road to Knoetzie. This was, of course, the car that Inspector Appels had checked  and then left unattended for almost a week.
               It was only when a different contingent of the police service visited the scene for the second time five days later that they established that the vehicle had belonged to the missing Victoria Stadler.
              The scene was now belatedly cordoned off and searched. Her naked body was found less than 100 metres away from the burned car. Because it had rained the whole week she was lying out in the forest, and it had been very hot and humid, her corpse was so badly decomposed that valuable evidence was contaminated by the elements and lost.
Botha explained later that the police could see she had been strangled and then stabbed twice in the neck. Her rings and all her jewellery had been stolen from her body. She was also badly burned, presumably in her blazing car.
               The fact that she was found so far from her burning car could have indicated that she was dragged to the spot where her body was eventually found. The police and Botha didn’t know for sure. Because of the constant rain that week, no footprints or drag marks from her heels could be seen in the sand of the road.
               Although Victoria’s body was recovered on 15 November, her clothing was not located by the police until four days later. Her black trousers and underwear were discovered on 19 November and her top was found several days later – only five metres from where her body had been lying.
               ‘Why had the police not found all her clothing on the day they found her body, even though they had a sniffer dog and a helicopter and a hoard of policemen all looking for her in the forest,’ Izak van Rooyen asked Botha bitterly after Heinie was apprehended for her murder. ‘They must have been blind to have missed her garments only five metres away, when they were so close to where her body was lying.
              ‘Or, more plausibly still,’ Izak asked Botha, ‘ had her clothes, in fact, not been there at the time. Had they been taken from the forest before Inspector Appels came onto the scene, kept dry for all those days, then been planted there later on. DNA and semen can only be lifted off dry, unfolded clothing and materials. But if her clothes had been lying out in rain and  heat of Knysna in the forest all that week, all forensic material would have biodegraded after nine days in the wet bushes. Had somebody possibly been there before Inspector Appels and taken her clothing away?’ Izak speculated in his grief.
              ‘Maybe Appels knew what was going on, and that influenced his lacklustre performance when he allegedly ‘first’ viewed the vehicle. Maybe he had been instructed not to be too enthusiastic at the scene of the burned out car.
              Izak van Rooyen is completely cut up about his son’s incarceration and still does not believe that Heinie killed anyone, let alone two beautiful young girls who adored him as their hero to the extent of both having unprotected sex with him in a consensual manner.
Christian knew that the rain and humidity would have affected DNA samples that were taken from Victoria’s jeans if they had been lying outside for more than a week.  He wanted to be certain, so he telephoned the forensic laboratory in Cape Town and asked.
              ‘If her jeans were dry and unfolded and only subjected to heat, DNA in sperm could survive,’ the scientist told him, ‘but if it was subjected to rain in a forest for nine days, the sperm would spoil and mould would grow on it. No unspoiled sperm could be lifted from clothes in this condition, and no DNA would be found.’
              Botha knew that the police would do all they could to lift forensic material off Jessica’s belatedly located jeans. Maybe they would be successful and maybe they wouldn’t. He hoped any sound DNA lifted off them would give them all some definite pointers which might lead to her killer/s being identified. 
              Little did Botha know that the DNA eventually sent to the forensic laboratory from Victoria’s black pants, would cause his own conclusions to conflict with those of the police. The police team and the state prosecutor would later do their best to ridicule him and make him look stupid during Heinie’s trial. He didn’t care. He just wanted the truth of the matter to emerge. He wasn’t in it for the ego.

Botha and his team next went on the hunt for anyone who could possibly have seen Victoria Stadler on the day she was murdered. During this search they questioned a number of people, including petrol pump attendants, asking them whether they had seen anything at all that might possibly help to find the killers.
               At one of the garages, situated at the entrance to Hornlee, they found a petrol jockey called Anna-Clara Klassens. She was prepared to give a sworn statement about what she had seen, so Botha took her to an attorney’s office.
               ‘I am an adult person,’ she wrote, ‘sober and in my right mind. My ID number is 550505 555 0155 and I live locally. I am currently working at the Hornlee Service Station, Hornlee, Knysna, phone number 555 123 555, where I am a cashier.
               ‘On the weekend that Victoria Stadler went missing, I was questioned by two members of the Knysna police services about her disappearance. I gave them the information I am about to divulge in full. I told them verbally what I had seen but they didn’t take any notes. They said that they would come to see me at another time and take a written statement from me.
               ‘To date I have not seen the two policemen again, and they have not come to take my statement which I  now make voluntarily under oath to Mr. Els, who has identified himself to me.
               ‘On 9 November 2005, I reported for service at the Hornlee Service Station at 18:00. I was due to work a 12 hour shift until 6:00 on the morning of 10 November, when I would go off duty.
               ‘Two black men worked with me on night shift on that particular evening. One of their names is Samuel and I cannot now precisely remember the name of the other black man.
               ‘All three of us carried out our normal duties that night and just before midnight business quietened down and we had no clients to serve. We thus took turns in taking a few little naps. During one of my waking periods, while my two colleagues were sleeping, a white VW Golf approached and drove up onto the forecourt. The driver stopped at pump no. 3. The nose of the car pointed in the direction of the filling station’s cashier’s box.
               ‘I approached the car to serve the customer and when I did I saw that the front passenger  window was open and that there was a hand sticking out of it. I took it that the person in the passenger seat was going to give me instructions, so I  approached his window and stood there.
               ‘It was then that I noticed that the passenger was a black man and that the driver was a white woman. I also noticed that there were two passengers in the back of the car,  two dark men.
               ‘The white woman leaned over the black man in the passenger seat and held a R50 note out of the passenger’s window. She asked me in Afrikaans to put R50  worth of ‘unleaded 95’ petrol into the car. She also handed me the car’s petrol tank key.
               While I was putting the fuel into the car, the front passenger’s window was still wound down and I heard the white woman ask the black man where she could buy a beer.
               ‘The black man in the front passenger seat answered in Afrikaans that they could buy a beer at the Kleinbegin Tavern. I know that the front seat passenger was a genuine black man and not a coloured because although he answered in Afrikaans, his accent was that of a black man speaking Afrikaans.
               ‘Once I had finished putting in the petrol, I locked the petrol tank and gave the keys back to the white woman, again through the front passenger’s window.
               ‘Quite a bit of time had elapsed by now and although I can no longer clearly remember what the keys and the key holder looked like, I remember that there were more than one or two keys on the key ring.
               ‘After I had given her back her key ring and taken the R50 from her for the petrol, I walked back to the cashier’s box and the car drove away and turned in the direction of the N2 national road.
               ‘I did not see the woman again after this incident and neither have I again seen the three men who were passengers in her car.
               ‘After her body was found on the Knoetzie road, a photo of Victoria Stadler appeared in the local papers. When I saw the photo, I immediately  identified Victoria Stadler as the white woman who had been driving the white VW golf and who had asked me to put ‘R50 unleaded 95’  petrol into her car on the night of 9 November.
               ‘I personally know Heinie van Rooyen who has been accused of killing Victoria Stadler and he was not one of the three passengers who were with her in the VW Golf that night.
               ‘Too much time has passed now for me to accurately identify any of the black men who were in the car that night or to contribute to an identikit. I don't even think that I would recognise them  if I were to see them now. All that I can remember is that all three of them seemed to be very young and if I were to guess, I would say that they were all in their early twenties.
‘The content of this affidavit is true and I understand it fully. I have no objections to taking the prescribed oath. I regard the oath as binding on my conscience.
Anna-Clara Klassens’

The police were now on the hunt for Peter McHelm’s stolen vehicle.  Some days later it was located in Cape Town, being driven by a man called Byron Moses, 21 and his friend, Aubrey Tali Kemoetie.
              Botha found out that on the night of the theft of the vehicle and Peter McHelm’s strangulation, Byron Moses, who lived in the Knysna area, had visited his girlfriend and stayed with her until 23:00  on Wednesday, 9 November. He told her he was going home to his parents’ house to sleep but he was caught out in this lie the next day when his mom asked his girlfriend where he had been as he hadn’t come home that night. His alibi was thus blown, and even though he did pitch up for work the next day his boss said he appeared to be ‘a man who had had no sleep the night before, and who hid away rather than work.’
 Moses alleged that Aubrey Tali Kemoetie was the one who killed McHelm. He said Tali had a gun, and if he had tried to stop him strangling McHelm, he would have shot him. It was obvious that he was desperately trying to be seen as a bystander under duress.
               ‘However,’  Botha told Els, ‘it would appear that Byron Moses indicated that he knew about two murders that were committed in Knysna that week but wanted to distance himself from both of them.’
 ‘I am prepared to give a full statement regarding the death of Peter McHelm and also to tell you everything I know about Vicky Stadler’s murder, provided that I gain immunity from prosecution with regard to both cases,’ Byron Moses said. ‘Aubrey Tali Kemoetie told me that he committed the second murder.
               ‘I was under duress at the time of the murder of Peter McHelm. I could not talk easily about everything I know because I fear for my life. I am afraid of the established and notoriously violent prisons 26 Gang,’ he said, adding that ‘Aubrey Tali Kemoetie is a very dangerous man and has already tried to stab me with a knife at the court in Knysna.
               ‘Kemoetie had a firearm in his possession before he was arrested. He used it to hit Peter McHelm on the eye before he murdered him by strangling him.  At the time he threatened me with death if I talked about either of the two murder cases. I believed him,’ Moses said.
              Kemoetie and Moses’s clothing was taken by the police and put into evidence bags.  It is believed that the police are still in possession of the clothing. However, inexplicably, this clothing was never sent to the forensic laboratories to see whether there was any DNA evidence on any of it that might have matched that of Victoria Stadler. If what Moses said was true, surely the clothing they were wearing might have contained some of her blood splatter from the two stab wounds in her neck, at the very least. This matter was never aired or tested.
              Without having any insight into this collection of the two criminal’s clothes, and the forensic material that might have been available on it, Botha concluded that the modus operandi in the murders of McHelm and Stadler spoke volumes and should have been considered a link between the two cases.
               ‘Do you think Moses is genuine?’ Botha asked Els.
               ‘I do. I have also spoken to a certain criminal called Ashley Kampher, regarding these murders and about what Moses has been saying in prison, but he is in fear of his life from the notorious prison thugs of the  26 Gang, and won’t say anything,’ Els replied.
               Botha had news for Els. The Knysna dog handler, Inspector Petersen, had sworn an affidavit under oath in Afrikaans, saying:
               ‘I am an adult male, sober and of sound mind and I work as an inspector in the SA Police Service, stationed at Knysna in the Dog Unit.
               ‘On Friday, 18 November 2005, after 21:00, I received a  phone call from Senior Superintendent Marotsi to go immediately to the Detective Branch in Knysna, to talk to an informer at the office who wanted to speak only to me, in private. I jumped in a car and immediately drove to Knysna. Once there a Mr van Rooyen told me that a certain informant of mine was trying to contact me urgently. I then met the informant and he told me the following:
               ‘Ashley Kampher boasted in front of a number of people that he, Aubrey Tali Kemoetie and Byron Moses killed Victoria Stadler.
               ‘ Kampher said that the three of them had met Victoria Stadler near the filling station in Hornlee. They then went with her to buy “smoke” (dagga) at Nekkies, a place to buy drugs.  After they bought the “smoke” they went to the place where Victoria’s car was later found burned out. Once there, they cooled off.
               ‘After that they told Victoria that they wanted her vehicle’s registration number plates. She wasn’t keen on the idea and refused. At that point Ashley Kampher and his two accomplices overpowered Victoria and after a while Aubrey Tali Kemoetie strangled her but she wasn’t yet dead. So after that they loaded her into her car and set it on fire.
               ‘While the car was burning, Victoria got out of it and began to run away. Ashley Kampher ran after her and then stabbed her twice in the neck with his knife.
               ‘This particular informant has given me information on various occasions.  I have always followed up, and it has always proved positive, every time.
               ‘I trust the content of this affidavit and understand it. I have no objections to the taking of the prescribed oath. I consider this oath binding on my conscience.
 DD Petersen


Two weeks later Heinie van Rooyen was arrested.
              Botha and his team could not believe it.       According to witnesses, Heinie was not the last person to have been in either of the girls’ company. In the case of Jessica Wheeler, the car guard Kiewiets had described what he had seen, very accurately, according to the report and plan drawn up by the police on the scene of the murder. Botha, Els and the team were very confident that he had spoken the truth when he said that he had seen Jessica with ‘two white men, one of them a bald guy’ more or less at the time of her death. He had not seen van Rooyen enter the churchyard at any time. The sex they had enjoyed had taken place in the disco’s parking lot, not the churchyard.
               In the case of Victoria Stadler, they were also confident that the Hornlee garage cashier had been telling the truth when she said Victoria Stadler, with three black male passengers, had refuelled her car and after asking where she could buy beer, drove off in the direction of the N2.              
              It was therefore scandalous to the team that van Rooyen had been taken into custody. Heinie was charged with indecent assault and the murder of Jessica Wheeler, aged 19,  on 13 October 2005, and the rape and murder of Victoria Stadler, aged 20, on 10 November 2005. He pleaded not guilty to all the charges against him.
              ‘Of all the people we met and interviewed, Botha said later, ‘Heinie van Rooyen seemed to be the least likely murderer. He loved women and was often intimate with them, even promiscuous, given the opportunity. But what really, is promiscuous in a land of Polygamy? Still, it did not seem credible that he would  have murdered them.’
              Now began a series of bail hearings and court case postponements which were to see Heinie van Rooyen languishing agonisingly behind bars for three long years before the verdict was finally pronounced by Judge Nathan Erasmus on May 2, 2008. At each of the hearings, Botha and Els felt they were being deliberately sidelined and their evidence dismissed out of hand without being taken into consideration by the court. This was, in fact, to prove to be the case.
              However they were determined to continue to search for the truth.
              In the second bail hearing of December 23, 2005, a nasty shock was to burst over Botha before the end of a day-long magistrates court’s  proceedings. Up until then Botha and Else felt they had been allowed by the co-operative police team to share in the information returned by the forensic laboratory regarding the two cases.
              They were wrong. Director X* and his police team were now on the case and they discovered during the hearing, much to their shock and anger, that a great deal of it had been held back. This had not given them time to analyse it and formulate any possible explanations for the Defence. When it was finally revealed in the last ten minutes of the court proceedings, it could have knocked them both over with the proverbial feather.
               ‘I have received the preliminary DNA results,’ said State Prosecutor, Machiel Heyns, intoned ‘but a number of tests are still outstanding. We have found that the DNA of the semen found on the body and underclothes of Jessica Wheeler matched that of the semen found on the outside of the slacks of the other woman, Victoria Stadler.
               ‘Autopsy reports show that Jessica had “semen in her anus,” and that she “had been sodomised and suffocated in the sand.”  Victoria had “the same semen and DNA on the outside of her jeans. Both were from Heinrich van Rooyen, the accused suspect.’
              Botha and Els were dumbfounded. Shocked almost speechless. There must be a logical explanation for this. 
              The court erupted. The magistrate, Les Strydom, banged his gavel for order in the court, and then postponed the bail hearing again to 16 January, 2006. Heinrich van Rooyen was again remanded in custody.
               Botha and Els wanted to see for themselves the results of the forensic tests, as well as the photographs that were taken. Neither of the men, with more than 50 years of accumulated detection experience between them, could believe their ears.  They were absolutely convinced the wrong man had been apprehended. There had to be a rational explanation for why Heinie’s semen had been found on both girls, despite the fact that they sincerely believed he had not killed either of them.
              To try to counter this damaging DNA report, Heinie’s attorney, Daan Derckson, emphasised Heinie’s five year relationship with Nadia Nel  and the fact that they had two children, whom he loved dearly. After the murders and his arrest, he had lost his job because his employer told him he thought that having him around was ‘bad for business’.
               In his statement to the court, Heinie said he had met Jessica a year before, at Al’s Dance Club. He had visited her twice. She was staying at the Knysna Hollow Guest House at the time and on his second visit they had had sex and he had spent the night with her.
               ‘It was what you would call a one-night stand,’ his statement read. ‘A week later we saw each other at Al’s Dance Club again and although we were attracted to each other, there was no talk of a long-term physical relationship between us. I told her that I had a partner whom I loved, and two children, and she accepted this.’
               His statement also revealed that  he had first met Victoria Stadler at Stones two weeks before she went missing.
‘She was introduced to me by a mutual friend. We drank and talked and on the last night that she was seen alive, she had come into Stones alone. She waved to me while I was working as a DJ and I danced with her between sets.
               ‘There was a dance pole in the middle of the floor in the club, and I asked Victoria if she was going to have a go.
               ‘She laughed and said “No, I would need a lot more self-confidence before I could bring myself to dance around a pole, especially in front of all these people.”
               ‘We danced there until 2:00. Victoria bought me a couple of rounds of drinks, and I had bought her a round.
               ‘When it was time for us to leave, she asked me if she could give me a lift home, so I asked her to drop me off at the Hornlee Community Centre,’ Heinie’s statement continues. ‘When we left  Stones and crossed to the Zanzibar Club she took my hand. In the parking area near the library close to Zanzibar, we kissed and consensually masturbated each other. This was how my semen came to be on the outside of her long trousers. We did not have penetrative sex. After that she drove me home and dropped me at the entrance of Hornlee in front of the Community Hall.
‘She drove off and that was the last I saw of her. I heard the following day that she was missing.’
               Responding to reports that his jacket had been found in Victoria’s burned-out car in the Knoetzie Forest, five days later, Heinie responded, ‘I am always losing my possession, much to my parents’ annoyance.’ To date, however, there is still no evidence of a jacket ever having been found in the car.
              Jo-Ann Bekker of The Cape Times wrote on 23 December, 2005 that van Rooyen had said in his statement that  he had lost ten cellphones in two years, and of the four jackets his mother  had bought for him, he now only had one, ‘the red one’. The others he had lost or left in clubs or elsewhere.
               When he was asked by the Prosecutor at the bail hearing if  he had ever been ‘involved with date rape drugs’ to have sex with ‘his victims,’ Heinie seemed appalled at the question.
              ‘I don't need to drug girls to have sex with me,’ he said aghast, ‘it is mutually consensual. No, I have never given anyone a date rape drug, least of all Jessica and Victoria, and they are not my “victims,” they were my friends. We were sexually attracted to each other and now and then we had fully consenting sex. It was just one of those things that happen – pleasant, exciting, but nothing serious.’
               Heinie’s bail application was turned down and he was locked up in prison, first in Knysna and then in Port Elizabeth.
               The people of Knysna were overjoyed; a suspect had been apprehended and jailed, awaiting trial. They could sleep easy again, the tourists could come and their businesses could flourish. There was a collective sigh of satisfaction in the town. The Mayor of Knysna, Joy Cole, made a statement over the radio, that ‘the tourists can come back now because the serial killer is behind bars.’

              Another bail hearing came up on August 25, 2006. In the interim Heinie gave his full cooperation to the police investigators and was adamant that he had ‘not ever,’ sexually assaulted or murdered the two women.’ He added that he would do anything to clear his name and discover the true identity of the murderer/s.
               Botha and Els were in full agreement with van Rooyen when he said, ‘I believe I was arrested because there was pressure on the police to apprehend a suspect before the holiday season began.’
              Van Rooyen’s lawyer, Derckson, was also very unhappy that Heinie had been taken in by the police as their main suspect in the deaths of the two young girls.
               ‘The only evidence linking my client to the murders is that he saw both women on the night they went missing,’ Derckson told the court, ‘and some sex took place between them.’
              But Botha was in for another shock.
              After the bail hearing where Heinie  was once more denied his freedom, his attorney, Daan Derckson withdrew from the case and gave notice of this to the District Court. He himself did not appear but left the news to be conveyed by Prosecutor Sibongile Mpambani.
The presiding magistrate in that bail hearing, Elmarie Potgieter asked the tightly strung suspect to confirm that this was true. He did.
              Later Derckson said that he and the Van Rooyen family had decided to part ways as he had not been paid anything as yet, for his services. ‘The reason is simple,’ he said, ‘my firm hasn’t been paid a cent since the start of all these bail applications.
              Derckson said he was also being sued by Christian Botha for his fees. He felt that since he had been hired by the van Rooyen family to investigate matters for their son, Heinie, they should pay Botha his fees.  He said he would be contesting Botha’s claim, as it was Heinie and his family who should be paying the R20,000 and not himself. He felt he was not responsible for it.
              A  Port Elizabeth attorney, Lunen Mayer and lawyer, Terry Price, were appointed as Heinie’s new legal team.
              The next bail hearing was set down for September 8, 2006.
              There the prosecutor, Machiel P Heyns, cross questioned Daryl Els, who was called to the stand.  This was the second time in a matter of a few months that his detective work had been weighed up against that of SAPS police’s Director X*.  At that time Els was again with the Scorpions. He explained that he and another private investigator, Christian Botha, together with Daan Derckson, van Rooyen’s   attorney, had interviewed the accused, Heinie van Rooyen, about Peter McHelm, the man who had been murdered on the same day as Victoria Stadler and whose body was found in the same vicinity in the Knoetzie forest.
               ‘We all concluded that Victoria and Peter McHelm must both have been murdered by others as it certainly had not been van Rooyen who had murdered them,’ Els said.
               He continued under cross examination, telling Heyns: ‘I am satisfied that van Rooyen had not been the last to see Jessica Wheeler on the night she was murdered in the churchyard, and he had not sodomised her, ever.’
               ‘How would it affect your evidence if van Rooyen’s semen was found in Jessica Wheeler’s anus?’ Heyns unexpectedly asked Els.
               At that stage of the proceedings Els and Botha had no idea of the findings of the forensic laboratories and Els, thinking this was a hypothetical question, answered, ‘if such semen was found, then there is definitely something Heinie van Rooyen was not telling us,’ he shot back spontaneously.
               Heyns gave a conspiratorial smile.  ‘Exactly,’ he said, and sat down.
               In the benches Christian’s heart sank.  There must be something else that Heyns knew that Christian and Daryl had not yet heard about. What was he getting at with this question?
               According to a journalist who was present that day, ‘Heyns told a packed courtroom in Knysna that a preliminary and partial report from the police forensic laboratory in Cape Town showed that the DNA sample found in Wheeler’s body, as well as a semen sample found on the pants Stadler was wearing on the night of her murder, were linked to van Rooyen.’
               Els told the court that there were alternative suspects but during the court case the State Prosecutor, Heyns, ignored this and insisted that DNA samples of van Rooyen on the girls ‘undeniably linked him with their bodies.’  Well yes, it did. He had had sex with them both on the night, a month apart, that they were killed. But that didn’t mean he had been the one to kill them. In fact the forensic scientist who tested his clothing was about to confirm this.
               The State called a further three witnesses. According to Trisha Steyn of News 24, one of these witnesses was Charmaine van Schalkwyk, an assistant at the police forensic laboratory in Delft, Cape Town. She had received clothing of the two young women and had extracted samples for DNA tests. She also received  clothing from Heinie van Rooyen, obtained through an illegal warrant on 17 November, 2005 by Director X*, after the van Rooyen house in Hornlee had been searched.
               Responding to a question by advocate Terry Price, for the State, Charmaine van Schalkwyk admitted that ‘nothing had been found on van Rooyen’s clothing that could link him to the two victims.’
               ‘Court adjourned,’ the Magistrate intoned, beating the gavel on the desk.
               Everyone trooped out for a break.
               When they returned, however, Heyns dropped his bombshell.
               ‘The first DNA results were faxed to us by the State yesterday,’ he said. ‘These did not include all the test results but the long and the short of it is that swabs taken from Jessica’s anus were tested. Those, along with samples taken from the G-string she was wearing, connect the accused Heinrich van Rooyen to her via the DNA in his semen.
               ‘Similarly, his semen and DNA were also found on the outside of the long black pants Victoria Stadler was wearing on the night she was killed.’
               Heinie van Rooyen was not allowed to go home on bail. He was remanded in custody in the same prison his father had formerly headed. He shook his head in disbelief.             
               ‘How could I possibly have landed up in here?’ he asked himself. It was the one thing that their father had drummed into them throughout his childhood – stay on the right side of the law and avoid going to prison. To Heinie, as with his siblings, this dictum was virtually stamped into his heart and written in his blood. Now his incarceration seemed surreal, a fabrication. He simply had not committed the crimes. He trusted that the court case and all the evidence would eventually exonerate him and set him free.
               The parents of the two girls, meanwhile, were devastated at the news that their beautiful, brunette, white daughters had been involved with a Coloured man, and, in the case of Victoria Stadler, with several black and Coloured men.  Hanging on to views more appropriate in the apartheid era, they refused to believe the girls’ association with van Rooyen had been voluntary. They were pleased that this liar was remanded in custody. For white girls to favour Coloured men went against the grain.  They would now wait for the trial of Heinrich van Rooyen set down for 22 March 2006. This was later postponed to May 2, 2008.
                 The people of Knysna were overjoyed; a suspect had been apprehended and jailed, awaiting trial. They could sleep easy again, the tourists could come and their businesses could flourish. There was a collective sigh of satisfaction in the town. The Mayor of Knysna, Joy Cole, made a statement over the radio, that ‘the tourists can come back now because the serial killer is behind bars.’
              Two years later, on May 2, 2008, van Rooyen’s court case finally came up. But in the interim he gave his full cooperation to the police investigators and was adamant that he had ‘not ever, ever sexually assaulted or murdered the two women.’ He added that he would do anything to clear his name and discover the true identity of the murderer/s.
               Botha and Els were in full agreement with van Rooyen when he said, ‘I believe I was arrested because there was pressure on the police to make an arrest before the holiday season began.’
              Van Rooyen’s lawyer, Derckson, was also very unhappy that he had been taken in by the police as their main suspect in the deaths of the two young girls.
               ‘The only evidence linking my client to the murders is that he saw both women on the night they went missing,’ Derckson told the court during the eventual trial, ‘and some sex took place between them.’
              The challenge for Botha and Els was to find out what explanation there could be for the presence of van Rooyen’s semen in Jessica Wheeler’s anus. They pored over the forensic report and the photographs of the body.
               ‘The first thing I noticed,’ Christian said while discussing this aspect with Els, Frans and Play, ‘was that Jessica’s anus did not show any signs of being ripped and torn. Van Rooyen is built like a bull, with an exceptionally big manhood. Surely if he had sodomised Jessica, her anus would have shown signs of trauma and there would, at the very least, have been blood on the outside of her anus and on her panties?  There was none of that. Her anus looked normal and healthy.
               ‘By Heinie van Rooyen’s own admission, he and Jessica had slipped out of the nightclub earlier in the evening and had had consensual vaginal sex standing up against the wall of the parking lot. She had slipped her arms under his shirt and held onto him around his back, and in so doing, taken up a bit of his skin under the fingernails of her one hand.  He had not used a condom and had left his semen inside her.’
                             Botha reminded his team that the young car guard, Kiewiets, had said he’d seen Jessica and Doman with Roets go into the churchyard. He stressed that Kiewiets’ story had been checked on a private polygraph and had been found to be true.
               The two overseas visitors from Durban, who were staying with Jessica and her flatmate at the time, stated that they had seen from their window that Jessica had ‘gone out with a bald man and another young man.’ Their story thus corroborated with that of the car guard.
               To subpoena them as witnesses in the trial, however, would be an expensive exercise since they had subsequently gone back overseas and would have to be flown in from abroad. Heinie’s parents simply could not afford to do that. Unlike Fred van der Vyver’s parents, who had enough money to fly in specialists to prove that the evidence put forward by Director X* was not correct, Heinie’s parents didn’t have the millions they needed to spend defending their son, whom they fully believed was innocent.
               Botha and Els tucked the information given by the girls into their minds and thought that  Jaco Kiewiets, despite his tender age of 16, would be a strong enough witness without them.
               How wrong they were.
               They didn’t count on the possibility that he would be intimidated into changing and obfuscating his evidence in the eventual court case. This element in his court substantiation would prove to be a big negative for Heinie.
               The team now turned their minds to the physical facts of the case and examined the known clues in detail. They knew that Jessica Wheeler had had vaginal sex during the evening with Heinie, as told to him and Els by Heinie himself. Some of the semen must have leaked out while she was dancing with him later, and spilled onto her G-string panties. That this does happen to women after sex is a known fact. No deep, dark mystery there.
               ‘We know that her face was pushed down into the sand and that it suffocated her, so we know that she was lying on her face when she died. 
               ‘Neither of the two men seen by the car guard appears to have left their sperm on or in her.  As it happens, despite the fact that they were initially the primary suspects, their DNA was not tested or looked for on her body or clothes.
               ‘However, when her body was found she was lying on her back.’  They hypothesised that the semen she had received from Heinie was in her vagina, and when she was turned over onto her back it probably ran down out of her vagina and across her anus towards the ground.  When the medical samples were taken, the doctor pushed the swab across the semen which was running down past her anus from her vagina, and it was carried into her body on the swab. When the swab was pulled out, it was once more moved across the flow of leaking semen from her vagina. The swab could thus have picked up a considerable load of  semen from the vagina, left there by Heinie van Rooyen from their consensual sex in the car park, earlier in the evening.
Botha and Els both came to the conclusion that the ‘sexual assault’ that the police had reported, was nothing of the sort.
              But what of Victoria Stadler?  Van Rooyen’s semen had been found on the outside of her trousers.
               ‘Masturbating each other would do that,’ Botha said. ‘It did not mean that van Rooyen had killed Victoria.
               Botha wondered why , apart from the consensual sex issue and the semen found on both girls, had Heinie van Rooyen been arrested and incarcerated with such unseemly haste.  He seemed to have been found guilty before all avenues had been thoroughly researched by the police. Surely there was justice somewhere, and that justice should be seen to be done. To him it was a cut and dried case that the wrong person had definitely been apprehended for crimes he did not commit.
               During Heinie van Rooyen’s second bail application at the Knysna Magistrates Court on 25 May 2006, Botha told the court that two eye-witnesses had placed Doman at the scene the night Jessica Wheeler was murdered.
               ‘I am concerned that that police appear to have eliminated vital evidence gathered by my team,’ Botha told the court. He emphasise that the car guard they had interviewed had been honest. Kiewiets said he had heard a scream in the churchyard. This scream had not been mentioned in his affidavit but he had told Botha about it during their many interviews.
               Botha told the court that the guard had said he had identified Wheeler after seeing a picture of her in a newspaper. He also said that ‘on Thursday night I saw Doman,’ (whom he identified,) ‘with the girl at the churchyard’ after I saw the time on the clock and was walking back to my work position in Main Road.
               During the trial, however, Kiewiets was visibly fearful and intimidated, and changed his testimony. The prosecution seemed to confuse and frightened the young car guard to discredit his testimony.   Whereas before he had said that he had seen that the girl with the bald guy was wearing a white blouse and a black skirt, he now said that he did not know what the girl he saw had been wearing, and also that he had never identified her as Jessica Wheeler.
               The defence suggested throughout the trial that Doman could possibly have been responsible for Jessica Wheeler’s death.
               There was another factor that Botha had uncovered and which he felt was relevant. A truck driver, Mr. Minnie, who was delivering bread, had  seen a coloured man ‘with dreadlocks’ sitting on the wall next to the churchyard, and that he had also seen a  bald male in the same locality. If two witnesses, Jaco Kiewiets and Mr. Minnie, placed one person, Doman, at the crime scene in Jessica’s death, surely that needed an explanation, Botha insisted. 
              The court didn’t seem to think so.
              Again, later, during cross questioning about the second girl’s death the police investigators dismissed information from the Hornlee petrol pump attendant as well. The court did not agree that Els and Botha’s evidence was relevant. They dismissed all their witnesses’ reports. Botha and Els both wondered if somebody had ‘got at’ Kiewiets and possibly threatened the teenager before he came to court. They had evidence that other witnesses had been threatened, most notably the  Hornlee petrol pump attendant. Some days after she had spoken so openly to Botha and Els, she begged them not to mention her name or to tell anyone what she had seen. She said she had received death threats and been told not to open her mouth or she and her family would be killed.
               However, two other witnesses stepped forward to say they had seen Victoria Stadler driving around with coloured or black men in her car late on the night she was killed.
               In a 22 March 2006 report, at yet another bail hearing, written by Ella Smook of the Cape Argus, it was reported that’ two businesswomen, Carmen Sauer and Mary Arnolds, told the court that they saw Stadler driving in her white VW Golf with an alleged gangster, Aubrey Tali Kemoetie, whom they knew, in the car.
               ‘At this point Kemoetie was awaiting trial for the murder of Peter McHelm. Sauer and Arnolds said they had seen Stadler with Kemoetie on two consecutive days, 10 days before she disappeared. There were three passengers in the back seat of her car, they said. “The first time we saw them, things looked very jolly in the car, with both the driver and the passengers singing and swaying,” Arnolds told the court.
‘In response to the question of why they had taken so long to come forward with their evidence, both women said police had asked them whether the reason was that they had been offered some kind of “incentive” not to testify. These allegations were answered with a categorical denial. ‘
In the same week,  petrol station attendant was also adamant that she ‘had seen Victoria Stadler on the night of 9 November,2005. She did not provide a reason for her certainty,’ Ella Smook reported. ‘She said the police had only questioned her two weeks after Victoria Stadler’s death, and she admitted under cross-examination that she had initially told the police officer that she had seen the group at around 23:00 on the night of Stadler’s disappearance – a time that did not fit in with Stadler’s known movements the night she disappeared.
              The question of witness intimidation never came up in the court.  Botha knew she had been too afraid to tell them that she had the petrol slip from the night that Victoria had refuelled, and that it contained the date. Her evidence as a witness thus became suspect, and Botha knew the Judge had to take that into account. He didn’t know about the slip.
               It became clear to him and Els that there was a desperate urgency to convict someone, anyone, and preferably Heinrich van Rooyen, the man with his ‘wild oats’ evidence found on both dead girls – and also that there was a ‘cover up’ on the go. The quicker the court could convict him and lock him away, the better for everyone. Botha shuddered at the thought.
               Later Botha took the stand at the second bail application, to present his findings to the court. He was thoroughly cross-questioned by Prosecutor Heyns. According to Lyn Sampson, a revered and respected Sunday Times journalist and columnist, who was at the trial, ‘Botha was slaughtered by the court. He performed very badly.’
               When told this, Botha disagreed. ‘I didn’t think so,’ he said, ‘the only trouble was they didn’t seem to want to hear my evidence or that of my witnesses. It didn’t fit with their scenario, and it was largely ignored. They wanted to find Heinrich van Rooyen guilty of both murders. Then they could put the so-called serial killer away for life and everyone could sleep easily.
               ‘ I don't believe that Heinie is guilty of either of the murders and I was upset when the magistrate didn’t take my evidence into account at all. Two days later, when he summed up, he didn’t even mention one thing about it.’
               In the meantime the police had arrested two coloured men, Byron Moses and Aubrey Tali Kemoetie, on suspicion of murdering Peter McHelm. During Heinrich’s  bail application Botha told the court that he and Els had taken a statement from Peter McHelm’s murder suspect, Byron Moses, who was in custody, without the suspect’s lawyer being present.  Because McHelm’s body had been found on the same day Stadler’s was discovered, Botha was led to speculate that Victoria and Peter’s deaths could possibly be linked, and that Moses and Kemoetie had killed both of them.
               Botha also revealed to the magistrate that Moses had told him Kemoetie had said  ‘he needed to get out of Knysna because he had committed another murder the day before.’
               ‘The only other murder we know about that had taken place that day was that of Victoria Stadler,’ Botha told the bail magistrate.
                             Prosecutor Heyns countered that Moses, in a statement to police, had denied telling Botha that he had known about Kemoetie.
              This of course, was a blatant lie. 
              Much, much later, Botha found out something which might have made a major difference to the case against Heinie van Rooyen. In Peter McHelm’s murder case, clothing worn by the suspect's in that case, Aubrey Tali Kemoetie and Byron Moses, was taken by the police and put into evidence bags.  Surprisingly it was never sent to the forensic laboratories to see, via DNA evidence, whether any of the materials found on it matched that of Victoria Stadler. All things being equal, the police should still be in possession of that clothing.
              This clothing as evidence never came up in any of the bail hearings for Heinie, nor in his court case.
              Later, Botha agreed with the court that the State had a strong case against Heinie due to the DNA evidence which they had collected from both girls. But he believed strongly that the evidence he himself and his team had gathered was most significant. He told the court that he felt that just because Heinie’s semen was found on both victims, it did not mean that he had sexually assaulted and killed either girl. It was  circumstantial but not definitive.
               ‘For instance, if I sleep with someone’s wife next door, leave semen at the scene and two hours later someone breaks in and she’s murdered, am I the murderer?’ Botha asked of the court, which burst into laughter − much to the magistrate’s irritation.
               It emerged in court that Botha and Els had actually spoken to van Rooyen at the Stones nightclub on the same night that Stadler disappeared.  They had gone to speak to him about the previous murder. It was a pure coincidence that they had been in the club speaking to Heinie on the very night that the second girl was killed.
               ‘Who would be foolish enough, on the very night that you are questioned about the murder of one girl to go out and commit a second murder?’ Botha asked the court. ‘It does not make sense.’
              He then explained that they had been speaking to van Rooyen about obtaining video footage from the club on the night Jessica was killed. They wanted to see if she and Heinie had, in fact, gone out for a while and then come back into the nightclub to continue dancing, as he said they had. The tapes would show that clearly, but the police had taken the tapes and they had now allegedly disappeared.
               Under re-examination, attorney Derckson put it to Botha that if his client, Heinie van Rooyen, having spoken to the private investigators about Jessica’s death, had then gone on to commit murder a few hours later, it would mean ‘he acted without a conscience and relentlessly.’
               Botha agreed, yes, it would mean that.
               It seemed this statement was enough for the Judge. Bail was refused and Heinie van Rooyen remained in jail, pending trial. He was to sit for two long years before he had his day in court.
               The prosecutor now also said that the forensic laboratory ‘had found some scrapings of Heinie’s skin under the finger nails of her one hand.’ This he felt, had indicated that she had tried to fight him off.
               Botha had his own theories on these matters and they didn’t concur with those of Director X*. He knew that Heinie had said that during their contact in the parking lot, Jessica had ‘put her hands and arms under his shirt when they made love against the wall.’ This could well have explained why she had some of his skin flakes under the fingernails of her one hand. Surely if she had had to ‘fight him off’ she would have had skin and blood under the fingernails of both her hands?  Christian shook his head in bemusement at the prosecutor’s conclusions.
               With regards to Victoria Stadler, on whose jeans his semen was allegedly found, van Rooyen had told Botha and Els that she had given him a ‘hand job’ before she dropped him off outside Hornlee. This had resulted in some of his semen ending up on the outside of her jeans.
               But quite apart from that, the evidence could have been planted on her jeans after she had been killed. Her naked body was not found for five days, and her clothes were not found for a further four. This makes it nine days that her clothes had, allegedly, been outside in the weather under the bushes near her body. Would it be possible that a fluid as fragile as semen would still be able to be tested and verified so long after the ejaculation, in the heat and that week’s worth of constant rain?
Els, who was at the first criminal hearing in November 2007 in Knysna, gives his take on it:
               ‘The trial itself was flawed and the judgement was based solely on circumstantial evidence which is to say the least, very, very dangerous.
               ‘The trial judge, Nathan Erasmus, was the same Erasmus who had been involved in the Erasmus Commission that had handled the Delmas Four’s trial. He was not known to be soft on criminals.  He was also very pro the State and continuously interrupted the defence advocate, Terry Price, often making sly remarks aimed personally at Price.   At one stage this led to Price requesting Erasmus to recues himself from the case. 
               ‘Erasmus took this in his stride and, after ordering counsel to meet him in Chambers, remained on as trial judge.
               The two female visitors, who had been visiting Jessica Wheeler’s flat mate on the night of her murder, were never called as witnesses by the State and their statements as recorded by the initial investigating officer were never supplied to the defence team of Price and attorney, Lunen Meyer.’
               The question now is, why was this information withheld by the state?
               The judge also accepted as evidence the identification of Heinie van Rooyen by truck driver, Mr. Minnie, which took place in a highly irregular manner.  This involved Director X* showing a single photograph of van Rooyen to truck driver Minnie and enquiring from him as to whether ‘this is the male you saw sitting on the church wall and talking to the late Jessica Wheeler?’
               One further irregularity was that there are witnesses who can testify that Erasmus, as the trial judge, was seen entertaining Director X*, the main investigating officer of the case.  This is unheard of in professional circles and is highly irregular.
               Another factor in this case too, was that in a previous murder case, already tried, Byron Moses and Aubrey Tali Kemoetie were convicted of the murder of Peter McHelm.
               This led Christian to believe that if the modus operandi between the murders of McHelm and Stadler were carefully taken into account, van Rooyen would not have been convicted of the murder of Victoria Stadler.
               Christian knows very well that everything isn’t always what it seems. More than twenty years in the investigative field has taught him that. He always keeps an open mind and examines the evidence minutely. He does not want to hear anybody else’s theories on a crime before he has worked out his own. Often his innovative thinking solves the matter and helps him to come up with the right suspect. But in this case the judge was having none of his or Els’s interpretations or findings. They wanted a killer, and they were determined that they had caught one. Right or wrong. Botha and Els both feel that the investigation was badly flawed, just as Fred van der Vyver’s was proven to have been.
               Might it have made a difference to Heinrich van Rooyen’s case if his family could come up with millions to do a proper investigation before an impartial judge and discredit a deliberately misleading and possibly corrupt cop, Director X*, as Fred van der Vyver’s parents could?
               Christian Botha was sure it would.
               But in the meantime Heinrich van Rooyen, at only 23 years of age, with his whole life before him, was sentenced to rot in jail for two life sentences without the possibility of parole.
               The residents of Knysna thought they could now sleep well in their beds and get on with the business of wooing the tourists. How wrong they were. Out there, in the woods, still stalking other young girls who are sweet and beautiful, prowls a deadly predator.  Shantelle Zeelie, 28, could vouch for this, if she could speak.  She was murdered and her body left under bushes near the Heads in Knysna in 2007, shortly after Heinie was locked away for all of his productive life.
               ‘Has Heinie escaped?’ was the common cry on everyone’s lips at the time. No he hadn’t. He was still behind bars and was going nowhere for a long time.
               Now it has to be considered whether Heinrich van Rooyen really is guilty of the murder of Jessica Wheeler and Victoria Stadler or if  there is another murderer out there.  Most killers escalate the frequency of their crimes, needing more deaths to keep them satisfied, more frequently. 
 Has Judge Nathan Erasmus and SAPS Director X*  locked away the right man?  We have our theories.
               You be the judge.








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