THE only girl who escaped from notorious paedophile Gert van Rooyen almost 20 years ago says the second she looked into his eyes she saw “pure evil”. Two months away from the 20th anniversary of her escape, Joan Homan (nee Booysen) told about the day she was abducted and drugged by Van Rooyen and his lover and accomplice, Francina Johanna Hermina (Joey) Haarhoff.
Speaking at a luncheon in Uitenhage, Homan told the story of her abduction and escape.
The story of Van Rooyen and his six missing victims has baffled police and the public alike for two decades. Despite countless investigations, rumours, forensic testing and the finding of bones, the six girls have never been found.
The disappearances of Tracy-Lee Scott-Crossley, 14, Fiona Harvey, 12, Joan Horn, 12, Odette Boucher, 11, Anne-Mari Wapenaar, 12, and Yolanda Wessels, 13, have all been linked to Van Rooyen after they were abducted in Gauteng between 1988 and ’90.
Homan, then 16 and in Std 9 (Grade 11), was kidnapped for a few hours on January 11, 1990. It was Homan’s abduction and subsequent escape that gave police the evidence they needed to close in on Van Rooyen, who police suspected had been involved in the disappearances for quite some time.
Homan said she did not consider herself a hero, even after providing police with the information they needed to move in on Van Rooyen and Haarhoff.
Using Homan’s information and descriptions of the couple, police placed their Pretoria home under surveillance.
Van Rooyen shot himself and Haarhoff as police were giving chase, also killing all chances of ever finding the six missing girls.
Homan said she had missed her usual bus to school that morning, when a blonde woman approached her on Church Square, Pretoria, where she was waiting for the next available bus to take to school.
“People always warn you not to speak to strangers. I knew I should never speak to strange men but no one ever warns you never to speak to friendly old ladies. She was friendly and very kind. I never suspected a thing,” Homan said.
Haarhoff, in the now infamous blonde wig with which she disguised herself, approached Homan at the bus stop and offered her a job.
“I told her I was still at school, but we started talking. She said she could give me information which I could give to friends. She then asked me where I was going and I told her. She said she was going in that direction and offered me a lift. I did not suspect a thing,” Homan said.
On the way to school, Homan said, Haarhoff told her she needed to stop off at her home. After entering the Malherbe Street, Capital Park, house Haarhoff then said there was no one at home. They would have to wait. She offered Homan a cooldrink inside and she accepted.
“We walked through the house. She told me she worked at a nursery. As we walked past the main bedroom I saw a man behind me. It was Gert van Rooyen. He slapped me and I fell down. When I looked up I was staring into a revolver,” she said.
Haarhoff produced a handful of pills. Van Rooyen forced Homan to drink them at gunpoint.
“When I looked at him all I saw was evil. He had beady eyes. All I thought was that this man is the villain. They told me they would demand a ransom. They then locked me in a cupboard.” Homan said she said a quick prayer and then looked at how she could get out of the cupboard.
“There was a polystyrene cooler box in the cupboard. I used the lid to open the hook on the other side which was keeping both doors closed,” said Joan, who at the time was a big fan of the TV show MacGyver.
She made her way to the lounge and looked outside. Haarhoff was in the garden but there was no sign of Van Rooyen. She phoned her cousin, telling her what had happened and where the house was.
“I ran outside. There was a man driving down the street. I stopped him and told him I had been kidnapped. I got into the car and the man drove away. “I passed out in the car from the pills they gave me,” she said.
That evening the police placed Van Rooyen’s home under surveillance.
Homan said her heart went out to the mothers of the six girls who had never received closure on their daughters’ fate.
Now a manager in Centurion, Homan said she had moved on with her life. Although her children knew what she had live through, they hardly ever talked about it. She is very close to her sisters, Elsenette Cronje, now of Despatch, and Lizelle Booysen, of Durban.
source: The Weekend Post