‘My brush with Van Rooyen in St Lucia’

‘Get into the car so you can show us where the local T-room is.’

A Mtubatuba resident has spoken to the Zululand Observer about her near-kidnapping at the hands of paedophile Gert van Rooyen and his girlfriend Joey Haarhoff while she, then 15 years old, and a friend were walking in St Lucia in 1989.

‘We were walking from my friend’s home to the super tube during the December holidays, when a red VW pulled up alongside us just as we left her garden gate,’said the woman, who prefers not to have her name published.

ALSO READ: WATCH: Excavation for missing girl in Gert van Rooyen case

‘The man was driving, and the blonde woman was in the passenger seat. They asked us where the closest superette was, and we replied that they could not have missed it as it was literally at the
entrance to the town,’ she explains.
But the pair were quite insistent that the girls get into the vehicle. ‘We backed off, wary. But the woman reached over her seat and scooted stuff off the back seat, telling us to ‘jump in quickly’ and that we should take them to it.’
‘We both said no, we don’t get into cars with strangers and then hoofed it back into the garden, closing the gate quickly behind us.’
She says they knew the couple were ‘fishy’, and that they were both shaken by the incident, immediately telling their parents about it. As young girls they only realised years later of the connection between the couple and the town of St Lucia.
Police said during their investigations they had received a phone call from one of the missing girls, tracing it back to St Lucia. ‘When we saw pictures of Van Rooyen and Haarhoff in the press, we were shocked.’
The woman, now a mother herself, says she goes cold at the thought that her parents could have been in the crowd, waiting on Blythedale beach to see if their child had been buried there.
‘Their lives would be so different today. Thank God we never got into that car…’


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Laurie Smith

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