Body of 2-year-old found in gorge where mother and children went missing
The body of a little boy has been found floating in a gorge in Voëlklip — an area search-and-rescue officials were scouring after the disappearance of Herolds Bay mother Heidi Scheepers and her two children, SowetanLIVE's sister publication HeraldLIVE reports.
Heidi, 35, took her daughter, 6, and son, 2, to the Herolds Bay beach at about 6pm on Tuesday for a walk.
The three did not return home from the beach.
Her husband, Ettienne, 36, had gone with them to the beach, but had walked to one of his business to check on it just before his wife and children were due to return home.
Southern Cape police spokesperson Captain Malcolm Pojie confirmed a child’s body had been found and taken to the mortuary.
Pojie said efforts to find Heidi and her daughter continued.
The Scheepers family own the Herolds Bay Cafe and run the Garden Route Property Management group that manages several holiday homes in the area.
After Heidi and the children failed to return home, social media posts asking for help in finding them went viral.
Police, rescue workers and residents joined the search, covering a large area of the town and surrounding suburbs, all the way up to George.
A rescue helicopter was deployed on Wednesday and the National Sea Rescue Institute (NSRI) arrived to assist after someone spotted parts of what appear to be a VW Caravelle door — the same colour as the missing vehicle — at the bottom of a steep cliff.
According to Ettienne, the vehicle his wife and children had been in when they disappeared was a charcoal Caravelle.
The search shifted in the afternoon to the rocky cliff near a gravel road at the Voëlklip fishing and picnic spot — a remote stretch on the outskirts of the town.
Earlier on Thursday, Pojie said due to rough sea conditions divers had not dived yet, but a reconnaissance of this area was done to locate more debris.
“A search was done and a car tyre was seen submerged in the water.
“A further inspection revealed it is a Caravelle.
“Drivers went into the water but, due to rough seas and the high tide, the operation was halted pending the tide going out,” Pojie said.
“A heavy-duty lifting tow truck has been connected to the vehicle in the interim, but the car will only be hoisted up later once the tide goes out.
“At this stage we cannot confirm if any bodies are in the vehicle.”
Pojie said when the tide moved out, divers would go back into the water and the car would be hoisted out.
The cliff is about 100m high and rescuers abseiled down its face, but were unable to recover any of the vehicle parts.
It was initially feared the family had been abducted, with police in the Eastern and Western Cape placed on alert.