Mom waits anxiously for news as Paarl man appears in PE court for theft of car
A mother whose car was recovered in Port Elizabeth over the weekend is desperately holding on to the hope that her missing daughter will “walk through the door and everything will be okay”. As Paarl psychologist Marlaine Pienaar-Vice waits anxiously for news of her daughter, Nicola Pienaar, 28, the man caught with her stolen car appeared in court yesterday – where it emerged he had given police a false address.
Jacobus Oosthuizen, 32, told the Port Elizabeth Magistrate’s Court through his Legal Aid attorney that he would plead not guilty to a provisional charge of theft of a vehicle.
Oosthuizen was arrested outside the KFC at Five Ways while parked in a Peugeot belonging to Pienaar-Vice, who had reported Nicole missing on January 8.
Nicola was last seen on January 5, when she left her mother’s home in the gold Peugeot.
According to police, Oosthuizen claimed he and Nicola, who had been in a relationship for almost a year, had an argument and he dropped her off in Oudtshoorn on January 7.
The dark-haired Oosthuizen, who was wearing a black golf shirt, fidgeted in the dock as his rights were read to him yesterday.
He stared down, only looking up briefly to speak to his attorney.
The prosecution is opposing bail due to the seriousness of the offence.
It said it also still needed to be determined whether Oosthuizen had previous convictions or pending cases.
The case was postponed to Friday, when arrangements will be made for it to be transferred to the Paarl Magistrate’s Court.
Although the details are still sketchy, police suspect Oosthuizen may have been fleeing the Western Cape and heading to the Daniell Cheetah Breeding Centre, near Kirkwood, where he had been employed previously.
Pienaar-Vice said she was hoping for the best.
“I don’t know much about the investigation and don’t want to say anything that could jeopardise it,” she said.
“The facts are that my daughter broke off communication with me on January 5.
“After not being able to get hold of her for some time, I contacted his [Oosthuizen’s] mother to find out if she had seen him – and then it emerged that he was also missing.
“That’s when I went to the police to open the case,” she said, crying.
“I have a practice at home and she [Nicola] lives in a flatlet here, so I see her all the time.
“We were very close and she was basically my assistant, helping me all the time. It is just so out of
character for her not to be in contact.”
Asked about items of her daughter’s that were found in the car, Pienaar-Vice said Nicola often kept clothes in the car.
“The fact that all his [Oosthuizen’s] stuff was in the car is what we are trying to understand,” she said.
Paarl police said a team of detectives would be arriving in the Bay late today or tomorrow.
Video footage from filling stations along the route to Port Elizabeth, where Oosthuizen is believed to have used Nicole’s petrol card, has not yet been collected by police.
While Paarl police continue the search for Nicola, the case has been handed over to the Port Elizabeth Vehicle Theft Inspection Section, which specialises in hijackings and stolen vehicles.
Oosthuizen told detectives that Pienaar was going to catch a bus back to Paarl after he dropped her off in Oudtshoorn.
Police spokeswoman Colonel Priscilla Naidu said the car had been impounded and forensic experts had spent hours taking DNA samples, which were now being analysed at the laboratory.
Police in the Bay, on the Garden Route and in Cape Town have been briefed to look out for Nicola.
According to sources close to the investigation, Pienaar’s petrol card was used along the route to Port Elizabeth, with the last occasion being in Krakeel, near Kareedouw, on January 9.
Krakeel petrol station manager Corney Kuhn said they had footage of a man, believed to be Oosthuizen, filling up at about 6.20am on January 9.
“The footage is not great. You cannot see if he is alone or if someone else is in the car,” Kuhn said. “You see him getting out of the car and going into the service station to buy something.
“He drives off after filling the tank.”
Asked if police had made contact about the footage, Kuhn said someone had called and asked to look at the footage, but he did not know if the person was from the police.
Daniell Cheetah Breeding Centre owner Richard Daniell said police had contacted him two weeks ago, asking him to call if Oosthuizen was spotted in the area.
“I really don’t know where he was going or what he was doing. I have no clue,” Daniell said. “He did not make contact with any of us.” Asked if Oosthuizen had left the centre voluntarily or if he was fired, Daniell declined to comment.
“I’d rather not get involved in something like this,” he said.
Daniell would not be drawn on what Oosthuizen’s job had been.
Paarl police spokeswoman Captain Louise du Plessis did not want to comment on the investigation.
Asked why the petrol stations where Nicola’s petrol card had been swiped had not been visited yet, she said the detectives who were coming to Port Elizabeth from Paarl would stop at these on their way to Port Elizabeth.
Asked if cellphone tracking had been able to help pinpoint Nicola’s location, Du Plessis declined to comment.