http://www.iol.co.za/news/crime-courts/32-...owComments=true32-year-old cold case baffles cops
January 25 2011 at 08:50am
By Graeme Hosken
IOL news police forensics
South African police are desperate to help their British counterparts solve a possible murder mystery spanning 32 years.
The mystery stems from the discovery of a body of what British police believe to have been that of a South African man from Randburg, on a mountainside in a remote part of South Wales in December 1979.
The man, whose body was badly decomposed, was found near the remote town of Resolven in Neath.
With nothing but the initial “D” and surname “Malan“, part of a post box address written inside the cover of a Salvation Army New Testament Bible, an SAA timetable and note paper from the Sheraton Heathrow Hotel to go on, police are preparing for a long, hard slog to name the man whose identity and possible murder have remained unresolved for 32 years.
It is one of 1 000 such cold cases dating back to the 1950s on which a team of analysts and police detectives from the UK Missing Persons Bureau are working.
SAPS Investigative Psychology Unit detectives, who investigate, among other crimes, serial killings and muti murders, are now assisting their UK counterparts.
For Captain Suzette Knoetze the task will be like looking for a needle in a haystack.
“We have nothing when it comes to this case, except for an initial, a surname, a partial post box address in Randburg, a 1978 SAA timetable and Sheraton Heathrow Hotel note paper,” Knoetze said.
“The information we have received from our UK counterparts indicates that the skeletal remains were found on December 9 and that the man was aged somewhere between 40 and 60.
“When he was found, police believed he had been dead for about nine months.
“During a search of the scene police discovered the Bible as well as an SAA timetable, dated April 1 to October 28, 1978, a map of South Wales and the West of England, and the hotel note paper.”
From the description written in the initial police report, the person, who was clothed, was between 1,73m and 1,78m tall, of stocky build, and had short grey hair.
“The clothing found on the man consisted of grey trousers, a blue shirt, a beige jersey and a pair of size eight shoes.
“What is interesting, and which we hope will shed light on the man’s identity, is that his right knee was fused and he was unable to bend it.”
Making the case even more difficult to solve was that there were no fingerprints, no DNA and no dental records to work with “as the remains have been disposed of”, Knoetze said.
“But despite this we are hoping that somehow we will strike it lucky. We hope someone who is missing a relative from that time who went to the UK will come forward and speak to us.”
Knoetze said that since receiving the case she had carried out several internet searches for missing people fitting the man’s description, but to no avail.
“We will be approaching the Post Office in the hope that they have some records from that period,” Knoetze said.
“These will hopefully lead us to an address or possible relatives.”
Asked how the man died and whether he had possibly been murdered, Knoetze said police were investigating the possibility that a crime had led to his death.
Louise Vesely, a tactical analyst from the UK Missing Persons Bureau who is also working on the case, said the probe was part of a wider investigation into the identification of 1 000 bodies found across the UK.
These finds dated back to the 1950s.
According to Vesely, those involved in the investigations suspected that a large number of these bodies were those of foreigners.
Commenting on the investigation into Malan, Vesely said the area where the body had been found was rural and extremely remote.
“What is making this case extremely difficult to solve is that there are no DNA samples to work with.
“None of the original samples taken from the scene exist any more.”
Asked if attempts had been made to contact the South African authorities when the body was discovered, Vesely said this was possible, but there were no records of these attempts.
“With the details that we have we are hoping our South African colleagues will have some luck in locating relatives of this man, allowing us to solve this case,” Vesely said.
Anyone who believes they may know the identity or whereabouts of D Malan’s relatives should call Captain Suzette Knoetze at 012 393 1819. - Pretoria News