Durban - Leon van Rensburg’s family have angrily defended him after doubts were cast over his alleged hijacking from Hillcrest earlier this week.
On Tuesday, a massive police search was launched for the New Germany man following an SMS to his daughter which read, “Help, hijacked” and Van Rensburg, who was reunited with his family on Thursday night, was said to be traumatised after his 72-hour ordeal.
Yesterday afternoon, his son Graham told The Independent on Saturday that his father had been “resting a lot” since his return .
Angrily denying social media speculation over the hijacking, Graham said: “The fact is there was a hijacking, if anyone wants to say anything else, then screw them.”
Police spokesman Colonel Jay Naicker confirmed that Van Rensburg had been interviewed by detectives at Westville Police Station yesterday, where he had given a written statement. “The police are continuing their investigation into a hijacking and kidnapping,” he said.
Reports earlier in the week stated that Van Rensburg’s bank account had remained inactive during the time he was missing.
Meanwhile, Durban’s top private investigator, Brad Nathanson, said he had visited the family this week to offer his help, but three hours later he received word that Van Rensburg had been found.
“Putting the pieces of the puzzle together, the facts don’t fit. I would love to be convinced that he was hijacked and this was not something else,” said Nathanson.
“I will volunteer my services free of charge to chase these hijackers, if Van Rensburg can show me where he was kept and where he was dumped – a blow-by-blow account,” he said.
The week-long drama for the Van Rensburg family started following the frightening SMS to his daughter, who only checked her cellphone once she returned home from school on Tuesday afternoon. The SMS had been sent at 10.41am. After being alerted about the missing man, the police launched an intensive search.
Van Rensburg’s car, which was allegedly hijacked in Hillcrest, was found abandoned and unlocked, with the keys still in the ignition, in Kokstad on Wednesday.
With both mainstream and social media closely following any possible breaks in the Van Rensburg hijacking and disappearance, family friend Rob Gardner released the news on Thursday that Van Rensburg was alive and on his way home.
Gardner said Van Rensburg had called a family friend in Howick from Underberg to let his family know he was alive.
The family were reunited later that night.
But doubt over the incident was soon being voiced with a slew of comments being posted on Twitter and Facebook: “What sort of hijacker let’s a guy keep his cellphone? Very dodgy” - Andrew.
“Am sure the truth will come out” - Deanne.
“Wow, this is like a soapie. All I can say is I’m waiting on the edge of my seat in great anticipation for the whole truth” - Keesha.
Others were staunchly defending Van Rensburg’s ordeal: “We haven’t walked a mile in his shoes… let’s wait to hear the whole story” - Kim.
“For now, he’s still just a man that has been through one hell of an ordeal. Have some respect” - Nick.
Meanwhile, in another, unrelated police hunt, the SAPS has confirmed they are still searching for 11 women who were allegedly being kept captive in a container, believed to be somewhere in Zululand. This follows the rescue of an Nkandla woman in Pinetown as she was withdrawing ransom money.
The woman, who has since been reunited with her parents, told the police she had been held in a container with other women after being lured into a taxi at an Eshowe taxi rank, that she had been repeatedly raped and her captors had shot dead one of their victims.
Her family were asked to deposit ransom money in her account, but they turned to the police for help and a sting operation was set up.
But when police swooped, the kidnappers, who were said to be waiting in a nearby car, had disappeared.
Independent on Saturday