Is it drug related?

January 15, 2009

Is it drug related?

10 January 2009, 13:18

Drug-related crime is on the increase in Knysna, where the murder of yet another young woman has shaken the idyllic coastal town.

Police statistics show that drug-related crime has doubled since 2002, although murder and rape have decreased.

This week, the body of Shantell Zeelie, 28, was found hidden under bushes near a footpath leading to a viewpoint at one of the town’s famous Heads.

Zeelie was last seen alive on Monday at Cruise Cafe, where she was working as a waitress.

Her car was found near the Coney Glen viewpoint later that day, and she was reported missing. Her body was found on Tuesday.

Southern Cape police spokesperson Captain Malcolm Pojie said they believed she was killed near the spot where her body was found. A postmortem was conducted in Oudtshoorn but the results have not been released yet.

Zeelie’s murder immediately sparked rumours of a link to the 2005 murders of waitress Jessica Wheeler, 18, and law student Victoria Stadler, 20, although police have dismissed any connection.

Heinrich van Rooyen, a Knysna disc jockey, was convicted last year and sentenced to two terms of life imprisonment for the murders.

A resident said that as soon as they heard about the Zeelie murder, the immediate reaction was “Is Van Rooyen still in jail?”.

A senior police officer, who asked not to be named, said it was likely that Zeelie was killed by someone she knew.

It appeared she had been strangled. Her body was fully clothed when found. All that was missing were her cellphone and car keys. Her rings were still on her fingers and nothing had been removed from her car.

The police officer said housebreaking syndicates linked to drugs were becoming commonplace in Knysna, with dozens of cases being reported over the festive season.

“A lot of people, including holidaymakers, were targeted by thieves while they were sleeping.”

Cocaine, dagga and tik were the main drugs of choice, with cocaine often being brought in on yachts via the Heads.

“But those are the big larneys who bring in the coke on yachts. There is a lot of big business involved too.”

Julie Gosling, a longtime resident of Noetzie, near Knysna, said everyone thought of Knysna as beautiful and safe.

“But it’s not so safe and there is a very high incidence of drugs.”

There was no port control of the Heads, so people could come and go as they pleased.

Gosling added that lately, at least once a week, there had been attacks or attempted rapes on women.

In 2004, 13-year-old Seteline Moos disappeared without a trace while at a picnic with friends at Jubilee Creek in Millwood forest.

And in 1995, photographer Alix Carmichele was savagely attacked at a friend’s house at Noetzie by a sexual offender with a criminal record, Francois Coetzee, who was out on bail for similar offences.

She was awarded damages after appealing to the Constitutional Court.

* This article was originally published on page 5 of The Star on January 10, 2009

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