Cornelius Gerhardus van Rooyen
Died:11 January, 1990
Cause of death: Suicide by gunshot.
Notable because: Along with his lover Joey Haarhof, Van Rooyen would capture, molest and then kill young girls. In 1988 and 1989 the couple were South Africa's most wanted criminals before, with arrest imminent, he killed his lover and then himself. His son Flippie went on to receive a death sentence in 1991 for the horrific murder of a 15-year-old Zimbabwean girl, in which he cut out her private parts and womb, but was released after serving 15 years.
'Gert' van Rooyen was a South African paedophile and serial killer who, together with his partner Joey Haarhof, abducted and murdered at least six young girls between 1988 and 1989. Their victims were never found as the pair committed suicide when faced with arrest after the escape of their last kidnap victim.
Van Rooyen's first crimes were theft, being sent to a reform school in 1954 for stealing a car and rifle, followed by imprisonment in 1960 for stealing motor spares and clothing.
He married and subsequently fathered six children. He ran a building construction business together with his brothers.
In 1979, Gert van Rooyen abducted two girls aged 10 and 13, taking them to the Hartbeespoort Dam near Pretoria, where he punched them in the face to force them to strip naked and perform sexual acts. Van Rooyen released the girls in Pretoria the following day. He was subsequently arrested and sentenced to four years imprisonment for abduction, sexual assault and common assault of the girls, serving three years before being released.
In September 1983, Van Rooyen and his wife Aletta divorced. In 1988, he started dating the attractive looking divorcee, Francina Johanna Hermina Haarhoff ("Joey" Haarhoff). The couple holidayed together at Warmbaths and Umdloti, on the KwaZulu Natal coast.
- On 1 August 1988, fourteen-year old Tracy-Lee Scott-Crossley of Randburg near Johannesburg disappeared. She was seen by witnesses climbing into a VW Beetle outside the Cresta shopping mall. Her brother, who had declined an offer to go with her, was severely guilt-ridden and traumatized by her disappearance. In later life he was found guilty of murder but the conviction was overturned.
- On 22 December 1988, twelve-year old Fiona Harvey of Pietermaritzburg disappeared. A white Ford 'Bantam' pickup used in her abduction with an advertisement for Van Rooyen's building-contracting business on it would later link him to this crime.
- On 7 June 1989, twelve-year old Joan Horn of Pretoria disappeared.
- In July 1989, sixteen-year old Janet Delport of Durban disappeared after being abducted in a shopping mall by a blonde woman. She was later found wandering around distressed, but unharmed.
- Some weeks later, nine-year old Rosa Piel of Alberton disappeared.
- Van Rooyen was thought to use Haarhoff to lure young girls for him. Children's homes reported that she telephoned requesting to bring girls home for the holidays and weekends. At the end of 1989, a 14 year old girl from an orphanage in the Orange Free State spent the Christmas holidays with the couple. The couple applied to foster children, but the application was turned down.
- On 22 September 1989, eleven-year old Odette Boucher of Kempton Park disappeared. The same day, twelve-year old Anne-Mari Wapenaar, also from Kempton Park, disappeared too. They were taken together.
- On 29 September 1989, Kobie Wapenaar, Anne-Mari's mother, received a letter from her daughter claiming that she and Odette had run away to Durban with some boys. Odette's letter arrived a week after Anne-Mari's ― although it was posted on the same day, 23 September 1989, in Durban. It is suspected the letter was written under duress.
- On 3 November 1989, Yolanda Wessels, the thirteen-year old niece of Van Rooyen's partner Joey Haarhof, disappears.
- On 11 January 1990, sixteen-year old Joan Booysen of Pretoria was abducted by Haarhoff in Church Square, Pretoria. She was taken to Van Rooyen's home in Malherbe Street, Capital Park where she was handcuffed, drugged and sexually assaulted before being locked in a cupboard. It is likely that Van Rooyen thought the small girl was younger than she was. She managed to escape and alert the police who placed the home under surveillance, and four days later, identified Van Rooyen when he drove past his house in a white Ford pickup that matched the description of a vehicle used in one of the abductions. They gave chase, but Van Rooyen shot Haarhoff and himself dead with a high powered revolver when police closed on him.
All the above disappearances, with the exception of Rosa Piel and Tracy-Lee Scott-Crossley, were linked by witness statements or forensic evidence to Van Rooyen and Haarhof following their deaths. For example, Odette's Boucher's home address, phone number (that was written on a piece of paper and hidden under a carpet in the garage and class captain's badge and yellow PT bag as well as Anne-Mari's address and home keys as well as the envelopes and paper that they wrote to their parents were found in his home. None of the Van Rooyen's victims were ever found, despite extensive police searches of his business premises and house (dubbed the "The House of Horrors" by the press).
In 1996, Absa Bank donated Van Rooyen's former house to the police to allow the girls' disappearance to be investigated further. On 13 May 1996, police systematically demolished the house in a search for new forensic evidence that might provide clues to the girls' fate. The roof was removed and vacuumed for traces of human hair and nails, then the walls demolished and the kitchen and main bedroom scanned with sonar equipment for cavities. The soil in the garden was sifted and some bones found, but forensic pathologists identified these as non-human.
In February 2001, Gert van Rooyen, Gert van Rooyen's son, was found guilty of perjury in the Pretoria Magistrate's Court. He was charged with three counts of perjury after giving police conflicting statements under oath relating to the six missing schoolgirls. Flippie was then already in jail for murder of an 16 year old african girl
On 12 March 2007, renewed interest in the case occurred after a set of adolescent bones was found on the beach near Umdloti, Kwazulu-Natal about 500m away from a holiday resort that Van Rooyen and Haarhoff are known to have visited. Subsequent DNA testing did not identify any of the Van Rooyen victims.
Significant public attention has been brought to bear on the case recently by the investigative television series, Carte Blanche which controversially dedicated a recent episode to the mystery.
In November 2007, bones were discovered in a property adjacent to Van Rooyen's house in Pretoria whilst ground was being dug up to install a swimming pool. Local authorities were alerted, and investigations are underway to determine if the bones are human, and of the missing girls
The Department of Correctional Services has confirmed that that convicted killer Flippie van Rooyen, son of notorious paedophile Gert van Rooyen, is due to be released on parole from Pretoria Prison soon.
Flippie van Rooyen, who had been sentenced to death in 1991 for the horrific murder of a 15-year-old Zimbabwean girl, in which he cut out her private parts and womb, will be released on 26 June, said Correctional Services spokesperson Grace Molatedi.
In May 1993 Van Rooyen's sentence was commuted to life and 15-years later he is due to be released. Six years were added to his sentence in 2001 for perjury after he made some bizarre claims about his father's notorious paedophile case.
His bizarre claims about his father
These claims included how his father dissolved the bodies of the girls he kidnapped in acid in a Satanic ritual ? the acid supposedly supplied by Flippie from Iscor where he worked at the time.
He also implicated that three National Party cabinet ministers were involved in the kidnappings of Odette Boucher (11), Anne-Mari Wapenaar (12) and Joan Booysen (16). Gert van Rooyen was also linked to the disappearances of Yolanda Wessels (12), Fiona Harvey (12), Joan Horn (12) and Tracy-Lee Scott-Crossley (14).
Flippie further claimed that they were buried in sand dunes near Umdloti, that his father had kidnapped and sold 40 young girls, and that he was helped by politicians to smuggle them out of the country.
Gert van Rooyen killed his lover Joey Haarhoff during a police chase on 16 January 1990 and then killed himself, however, Flippie claims his father was murdered.
Girls "alive" in Umhlanga Rocks
In 2000 he claimed his brother Gerhard, who himself is serving 15-years for theft and fraud, had told him that Joan Horn had died not long after her kidnapping, but that the rest of the girls were alive and living in Umhlanga Rocks just outside of Durban.
Flippie's different tales and failed polygraph tests caused the families of the missing girls enormous pain, as well as what he does know about his father?s crimes, which were brought to life again last year by Carte Blanche following the discovery of some bones.
iafrica.com has also reliably learnt that in 2004 Van Rooyen was also arrested following the discovery of a .375 magnum revolver in his cell.
Flippie claimed his murder of Naena Ndou was 'put on him' by someone in an international pornography ring ? he beat her with his army rifle, strangled her and then mutilated her.