Saturday, July 16, 2011

Missing Persons Pieter Boshoff was a paedophile contacted by John McCann

A month after the suicide of Pieter Boshoff, the respected founder of Missing Children SA, startling details have emerged about the children’s rights crusader’s dark secret life involving gay teen pornography, theft, spiralling debt and an alter ego called “Riaan”.

Boshoff’s suicide leap from the fourth-floor of an upmarket apartment building he was renting in Bloubergstrand shocked many Capetonians including Western Cape Premier Helen Zille who described his death as “devastating”.
But those close to him say it seems Boshoff’s two lives were starting to converge, and he decided to kill himself.

After his death, thousands of photographs and video clips of teenage boys having sex were found on Boshoff’s computers, among pictures of Boshoff posing with high-profile figures including Zille and Patricia de Lille. There were also photographs of Nelson Mandela and a letter from Desmond Tutu for one of Boshoff’s websites.

This week, friends and colleagues told Weekend Argus they had discovered that Boshoff, 38, fabricated stories about a son called “Loakie” whom he said had died at the age of nine, and a trust fund that he claimed he would have access to when he turned 40.

When Boshoff left Missing Children SA in 2008 he joined MylifE, an outreach organisation that works with youth at risk. He left there about five months before he died.

Former MylifE managing director Sarah Peacocke said Boshoff knew a lot of celebrities.

“We joked he had ‘celebrityitis’. He loved to be pictured with celebs which he’d put up on Facebook.”

He had photos of himself with celebrities like presenter Michelle McLean and UK pop singer Estelle, sports stars such as Benni McCarthy and politicians like Kgalema Motlanthe, De Lille but mostly of himself and Zille.

Peacocke owned the Bloubergstrand apartment Boshoff was renting – and lived in the one below him.

After he died she found photographs and video clips of gay porn when she accessed his computer. “I was gobsmacked – there must have been 10 000 or more.”

She said there were also saved conversations from chat-room sites Boshoff had visited where he had been very explicit about what he wanted to do.
“He’d say he wanted a toyboy. He was targeting boys still at school, probably around 16 or 17 years old.”

She also found some of her post, including bank statements, and cellphones that belonged to her in his apartment.

“I also found a voucher from Cash Crusaders for a MylifE laptop which he had sold for R850 and a modem for R150.”

Boshoff had told Peacocke and her husband Vince that he wanted to buy the apartment when he got access to his trust fund, and would take over the bond until then. But he defaulted on it and regularly borrowed money from the couple and other people. When he died he owed them nearly R50 000, according to a letter he had signed.

Peacocke said Boshoff had tried to kill himself two weeks before he jumped.
“He taped the bathroom doors shut and took two of my dining chairs and filled oven trays with charcoal which he set alight. He climbed into the bath and told us he wanted to die from carbon monoxide poisoning.”

More than a month later the apartment still reeks of smoke and there is smoke damage in the adjoining bedroom.

“I saw it more as a cry for help than a serious attempt on his life. Pieter was good at playing the victim,” Peacocke said.

On Friday October 1, the day he died, Boshoff went down to Peacocke’s apartment at 9.10am.

“He was fine; happy. He said he was meeting a guy who was interested in buying one of his websites,, and then we could go to the bank at 10am and he would deposit our money.”

“When he was late Vince was going to call him but we thought we’d give him a few more minutes.”

At 10.20am Peacocke heard a thud.

“Then my mobile rang and Philip the security guard said ‘That tenant of yours has just jumped off the building and he’s dead’. I said, ‘Don’t joke.’”

But when she went downstairs she saw Boshoff’s body. He hadn’t left a note.
Linzi Thomas, MylifE founder, said she had trusted Boshoff because of his background with Missing Children SA and his apparent close relationship with Zille.

She said he was also very close to the police and had senior officers’ cellphone numbers, including that of former Western Cape police commissioner Mzwandile Petros.

“He was brilliant at networking and he was online 24 hours a day. He used our laptop and wouldn’t let it out of his sight.”

But when Boshoff left MyLife five months ago saying he was going to work for the DA, he took the sponsored laptop with him.

“We didn’t think anything of it at the time but when we asked him for it back he always had an excuse.”

Thomas said a week before he died she went to his flat to ask for the laptop.
“I was shocked at what he looked like. He had put on about 10kg and the flat was in a mess and stank. He hugged me and told me he was struggling.”

Boshoff told her he’d sent the laptop to Cape Town with a friend. After he died it emerged that he had sold it to Cash Crusaders.

“It was only when we got the laptop back that we realised Pieter had stolen five of our IBM computers which he sold on Gumtree as well as my camera.”
Thomas said they gave the laptop to the police to examine and when they got it back there was nothing on it. But a computer boffin at MyLife restored it and found hundreds of video clips and photographs of gay teen pornography.
Boshoff had logged on to gay chatroom sites with the user name “Olahatzi” where he befriended teenage boys.

Peacocke said that after Boshoff’s funeral his elderly father had told her that when Boshoff was nine his mother had shot herself and the youngster had found her body.

That trauma of that must have piled up over the years, especially when he was working for Missing Children SA, she said.

“Sometimes dealing with others people’s trauma helps you deal with your own.”

Peacocke said she was still trying to unravel Boshoff’s complex story.
“Right now I have so many questions and wonder if anyone can shed any light on it.

“I don’t think what he did in his personal life should detract from the good he did with Missing Children (SA).”

She said that besides the computer and clothes, all that was left in Boshoff’s apartment when he died was a list of celebrity phone numbers and some personal documents – all of which fitted into a small bag.

Boshoff had started Missing Children SA in 2007 to help find missing children and to offer support to their families.

Judy Botes, Missing Children SA’s spokeswoman, said the reason Boshoff left in 2008 was because he had a nervous breakdown.

She said she was aware of Boshoff’s debt and Missing Children SA had closed all banks accounts in his name when he left.

Police spokesman Captain FC van Wyk said Boshoff’s death was still being investigated as a death inquest as no foul play was suspected. -

Saturday Argus