Life after tragedy

Cleo Adonis with her newborn baby is flanked by Edward and Christine van Blerk.

Cleo Adonis, the girlfriend of Durick van Blerk, who went missing at sea after allegedly being shot by a police anti-poaching unit, finds herself asking her newborn baby if she knows where her daddy is.

Cleo gave birth to daughter Chaeli three weeks ago. At the time of Durick’s disappearance on August 12, she was eight months’ pregnant with their child and was looking forward to a happy life together.

The Hout Bay community has rallied around mother and child, particularly Durick’s parents, Edward and Christine van Blerk, who themselves are still struggling to come to terms with his disappearance.

The Independent Police Investigative Directorate (IPID) is investigating the matter. Last week, the family was informed that human remains had been found at Sunset Beach, and these have been sent for DNA analysis to determine whether they belong to Durick, who would turn 26 on Tuesday October 23.

“I am doing fine with the baby, but there are often times all I wish is that we could find him (Durick),” Cleo told the Sentinel in an interview with the family.

Edward said the family hoped the remains would prove to be those of Durick.

“The worst part is not knowing. The first thing is to find out what happened to him so we can have some closure,” he said.

He acknowledged that he was beginning to wonder whether Durick’s body would ever be found. “I think about whether the police took the body away and tied it down with something heavy so that it would sink. Yes, that is something I think about.”

The arrival of little Chaeli has brought the Van Blerks “a little peace”.

“When I see her, I always think of Durick,” Edward said.

The fisher’s disappearance still played heavily on the minds of everyone in the community, he said.

“They are still very cross about what happened.”

Christine van Blerk said she was battling to come to terms with life without her son.

“This morning, I spoke to my other son, Garth, and called him Durick. We really miss him,” she said.

At the time of his disappearance, Durick and Cleo were preparing to move into a new home in Rodevos Road, where they would raise their daughter.

According to the family, he had been doing everything in his power to make money and give his girlfriend and daughter a good life. This included applying for small-scale fishing rights.

“Durick was also working a nine-to-five job at a courier company based at Century City. He was not a poacher. When he went out that night, he was doing it to make quick money so we could prepare the house,” Cleo said.

Christine said it was “disgusting” that the anti-poaching unit allegedly had taken her child’s life for a few crayfish.

In September, charges against the two men who were on the boat with Durick on the night of his disappearance were withdrawn in the Wynberg Magistrate’s Court after the docket went missing.

The pair was charged with the illegal possession of 58 crayfish tails and seven whole crayfish.

Police spokesperson Captain FC van Wyk confirmed that on Thursday October 4 police had attended to a complaint of a body washed up on Sunset Beach.

Speculation has abounded on social media that the remains could be those of Durick or 20-year-old surfer Keanan Petersen, who went missing at Lagoon Beach on September 24.