Cape Town – In a shocking twist, police revealed that three murder cases of three little girls have either been withdrawn or closed due to a lack of evidence.
According to criminologists, cold cases such as these murders can only be solved if new evidence comes to light or if a former person of interest was arrested for a different crime and then makes a confession.
While the Western Cape Missing Persons Unit said they have approached police previously for older dockets they could assist in but have received no feedback.
This week’s cold case revisits the murders of Kim Abrahams, 6, Joey Joseph, 3, and Celine Cowley, 4.
Kim Abrahams went missing in August 2005 while running an errand for her family.
Her lifeless body was found dumped inside a place known as the “Koffiedam,” and she had been strangled to death.
A neighbour, Jerome Holmes had been arrested and was later acquitted in 2009 when there was no DNA evidence or witness statements linking him.
This week, police spokesperson, Captain FC van Wyk said: “Be advised that in the murder case of Kim Abrahams, the case was withdrawn,” he said.
Kim’s grandmother, Colleen Koeries told Weekend Argus she decided to not fight anymore.
“I have made peace with it and I leave it in God’s hands,” she said.
In September 2005, the body of Joey Joseph was found in Bizet Street in Delft.
She had been playing outside of her home when she vanished.
Van Wyk added Joey’s case was shelved due to a lack of evidence and that it would be reopened next year if there was new evidence.”
“Joey Joseph murder case the case was closed undetected and next brought forward date is 2022/09 for any new information,” he said.
Weekend Argus was unable to reach Joey’s family.
Celine’s family have since moved out of Ravensmead after queries were made.
Community leader, Pastor Adam Alexander, who assisted the newspaper in attempting to track the family, said they were unable to locate Celine’s family in the same community.
Celine disappeared in August 2006 while visiting a shop in her street in 11th Avenue, Ravensmead.
Her body was discovered three doors away from her home.
She had been raped and strangled to death.
Her neighbour, James Barnes was soon arrested and later acquitted due to a lack of evidence at the Cape High Court despite a preliminary confession where he admitted to strangling and raping her.
Soon after his release, Barnes spoke to the media professing his innocence and calling for Celine’s killer to be apprehended.
According to van Wyk, Celine’s case remains open and is archived pending new evidence.
Van Wyk said: “Be advised that Ravensmead 11/08/2006 murder refers. The accused was arrested, charged and was found not guilty/acquitted by court.
“Since no new information came to light, the said case is still filed in archives.”
Previously, police confirmed that there was no cold case squad in existence.
Criminologist Guy Lamb echoed the sentiments regarding evidence and added that there was no cold case squad which could assist in solving older cases.
He added areas such as Delft, were plagued by murders with more than 200 cases last year.
Delft was listed as one of the 10 hotspots in the police precinct in the Western Cape for murders.
Lamb said: “Indeed, there is no police cold case squad. Older crimes generally only get solved if a perpetrator is apprehended for a different crime by the police, and then this person confesses to committing previous crimes.
“There have been occasions where older crimes have been solved because of the dogged commitment of investigating officers. In other instances, ‘cold cases’ may be solved where there is considerable public concern and media attention about them.
“But, in general, older violent crime cases, especially in high crime areas, such as Delft and Ravensmead, don’t get solved due to the high number of new cases with detectives often being overwhelmed by such cases.
“That is, there are over 200 murder cases per year in Delft last year.”
Earlier this year, Professor Shanaaz Mathews, Director: Children’s Institute, University of Cape Town, said only one percent of children had not been exposed to severe forms of violence at some point in their lives.
Candice van der Rheede, the founder and director of Western Cape Missing Persons, has been trained in murders and assisted police in many cases like that of Courtney Pieters, 3, of Elsies River, whose killer, Mortimer Saunders was convicted and sentenced.
“Most of these dockets and files are just placed on shelves and are collecting dust,” she said.
“When I was at provincial police, I asked that I be given some of the outstanding cases and too date I am still waiting.”