Farewell paddle-out for surfer

Surfers pay their respects to fellow surfer David Wolfromm at Witsands, the place he last surfed before the hijacking.
Video: Tracey Adams/ANA/African News Agency

A parolee appeared in court on Tuesday for the hijacking and murder of a 38-year-old surfer whose killing has shocked the far south.

The body of the man – believed to be that of Scarborough resident, David Wolfromm, although DNA tests have yet to confirm it – was found in the boot of a burnt-out Nissan Xtrail on Slangkop Road, near Ocean View, on Wednesday May 8, at about 7pm.

The accused, Wilson Wilschut, 30,faces charges of murder, hijacking, malicious damage to property and illegal possession of a firearm and ammunition. He was arrested on Saturday May 11 in Despina Way, Ocean View.

The court heard that Mr Wolfromm was returning to his vehicle after a surf when he was attacked by two men. They put him in the boot of his car and drove off in it.  They then  pickedup two women to show off their “new car”.

According to witness statements, the back seat was folded down with “something” on it. It is alleged that the accused told one of the woman not to worry about it when she asked what it was.

The court ordered that no photographs be taken of Wilschut as identity parades and witness statements were still outstanding and because the second accused was still at large.

The matter was postponed to Tuesday May 21 for a bail application.

According to Ocean View police spokesman, Sergeant Leon Fortuin, a massive man-hunt was launched and information from eyewitnesses led police to the accused.Mr Wilschut is on parole for a previous hijacking and, according to police, had car keys believed to be those of the deceased’s hijacked vehicle as well as an unlicensed firearm and ammunition in his possession.

Sergeant Fortuin, said the hijackers had picked up the women, along Slangkop Road. The women noticed a man in the back and wanted to get out immediately.

But the distracted hijackers crashed into an oncoming car, and its driver tried to stop them by reversing towards them.

He later told police the men had jumped out of the Xtrail and had started “scratching” in it before it had gone up in flames.

The hijackers had then pointed a gun at him before running off.

A group of surfers paid their respects to Mr Wolfromm, a fellow surfer and friend, during a traditional paddle-out ceremony at Witsands on Saturday morning May 11. Witsands was the last place where Mr Wolfromm had surfed before the hijacking.

Tributes poured in on social media groups, and far south residents expressed shock over what had happened. Some residents said police visibility needed to increase.

Surfing South Africa general manager, Robin de Kock, said it was a terrible thing to have happened to a fellow surfer, and he sent condolences to the family and friends.

In recent weeks, there has been a spike in hijackings and attacks on cyclists along Slangkop Road between Ocean View police station, Misty Cliffs and Kommetjie.

One cyclist broke his collarbone trying to flee two panga-wielding men near the entrance of Imhoff’s Farm, while another cyclist had a narrow escape from two men armed with knives when a motorist intervened.

Kommetjie resident Michelle Koch said she had almost been hijacked after stopping near Imhoff’s Farm at about 8am on Sunday May 12 to pick up her domestic worker.

She noticed two men walking towards the car from the direction of the Ocean View police station. Fearing something would happen, she yelled at her domestic worker to get in the car, and as she locked the doors, the men started banging on her windows and pulling on the door handle.“It is not safe along that road,” she said.

Sergeant Fortuin said one man was arrested on Sunday May 12 for robbery. “He was in possession of a
cellphone and a router believed to belong to a cyclist,” he said

Ocean View Community Police Forum (CPF)chairwoman, Kathy Cronje, confirmed that there had been a spike in hijackings and attacks on cyclists in the area. However, she said victims were not reporting crimes to police, and that was of grave concern to the CPF. A public meeting was planned for next week to address the issue, she said.

Community Safety MEC Alan Winde said crime in the province was out of control and should be addressed immediately.

Statistics from November 1 last year to April 30 this year showed 10 people were murdered daily across the province, he said.

“I’d like to express my sincere condolences to the family and friends of the victim of this horrific crime. I commend the police for arresting one of the two suspects that’s alleged to have committed this hideous crime,” he said.

* Anyone with any information about the murder is requested to contact the investigating officer, Detective Warrant Officer Muller at 021 783 8300.