search for top cop

A JOINT search by members of various specialised police units for missing top crime-buster Detective Inspector Andrew Bachipile Rapeta, who disappeared on his way from work a week ago, is continuing.

Rapeta, who is attached to the GaRankuwa, north of Pretoria, detectives and has served the unit for 28 years, was last seen by his family last Thursday morning when he left for work. Some of his colleagues last saw him the same evening when he left work for home.

The cop, who excelled in murder, rape and robbery cases, did not reach home that evening and his colleagues became concerned when he failed to report for duty the next day.

His car was found in the bush in Zone 15 on Saturday morning. This prompted the colleagues to check his whereabouts with the family.

Inspector Matthews Nkoadi of GaRankuwa police said the car was parked next to the old GaRankuwa traffic department building.

"His wife (Joyce Rapeta) said they last saw him on Thursday morning when he left for work," he said.

Nkoadi said the car was found locked and nothing seemed missing.

"We intensified the search on Monday when members of the dog, airwing and mounted units joined the search without any luck."

The search continued yesterday. Nkoadi said they had earlier searched the thick bush behind the Zone 15 industrial park on Monday because it was notorious for dumping bodies.

He said previously they found many bodies dumped in the area he also described as a haven for criminals. The last body was found in the area in December last year.

The inspector added that the search would continue until the top cop was found.

He also appealed to the public to assist with any information regarding the Rapeta's whereabouts.

Attempts by Sowetan to get comment from Rapeta's family were unsuccessful.

Sowetan joined a team of the missing cop's colleagues during a search in Zone 8 yesterday afternoon.

They combed a large part of the bush adjacent to Hebron on foot.

At the time, another team comprising members of the dog unit and those on horseback, was reported to be combing one of the many huge bushy areas in GaRankuwa and attempts to trace them were unsuccessful.

The concerned colleagues described Rapeta as "a non-violent and hard working officer. He left the office at about 7pm on Thursday and later returned and left again at about 10pm," said an inspector who worked with him for 24 years in the unit.

Though they did not say it in so many words, they would not rule out the fact that his disappearance could be linked to some of the serious cases he solved and the culprits were sentenced to long jail terms.