Date: 13 Oct 2012
THE private investigator hired to find Leon van Rensburg, the Durban man who vanished after sending an SMS to his daughter saying: ‘‘help, hijacked’’ does not believe that Van Rensburg was hijacked. And the family of Van Rensburg yesterday threatened this reporter if it was reported that Van Rensburg had attempted to take out life insurance policies a week before he vanished. Van Rensburg’s disappearance set off a huge manhunt around KwaZulu-Natal with religious groups holding prayer meetings asking for Van Rensburg’s safe return home.
The police launched a hunt for a suspected hostage and his hijackers who they believed had abducted him. When Van Rensburg’s Toyota was recovered abandoned in Kokstad, the vehicle was examined by forensic experts who analysed the vehicle microscopically for DNA and fingerprints. Van Rensburg’s family sounded the alarm after the 52-year-old IT consultant left his Hillcrest offices to drive home – but never arrived. At 10.41am Van Rensburg’s cellphone was used to SMS his daughter with a single message saying: ‘‘help, hijacked’’. His daughter was at school at the time and only read the plea after school when she switched her cellphone on.
After a manhunt from Tuesday to Thursday yielded no results, Van Rensburg suddenly contacted his family on Thursday evening – minutes after a private investigator asked his wife for a copy of his phone records. Yesterday Brad Nathanson, a wellknown Durban private investigator, said: ‘‘I do not believe there was a hijacking. First off I have never, in all my life, heard of a hijacker who allows their hostage to send an SMS after taking them. Secondly, why was the SMS only sent to the one person who could not possibly help. Van Rensburg would have known his daughter would only get the message many hours later.
Finally what possible benefit was there to the alleged hijackers? They did not clear out Van Rensburg’s accounts, they did not keep his car, or strip it for parts, and they did not hold him for ransom. No hijacker behaves like that.’’ Nathanson said that he offered his services to the family free of charge. ‘‘Nobody was asking for help so I decided to offer my help free of charge. I told the family I was suspicious of the hijack story from the start and said I was going to have to ask some very uncomfortable questions. I was very surprised that the wife did not take any offence at some of the questions. I was also very surprised by their attitude and behaviour – which were not normal for someone whose father and husband has been taken hostage’’.
By Paul Kirk The Citizen 13/10/12