Po­lice hon­our iden­tikit artist

Sunday Tribune - - FRONT PAGE - NABEELAH SHEIKH

A PORT Shep­stone po­lice­man, whose artis­tic tal­ents have brought new mean­ing to go­ing be­yond the call of duty, has been hon­oured for his hard work and ded­i­ca­tion by the South African Po­lice Ser­vice (SAPS).

Place a pen­cil in the hands of Sergeant Paul Felix Marimuthu and the magic he cre­ates plays a sig­nif­i­cant part in nab­bing crim­i­nals.

Marimuthu is a fa­cial iden­ti­fi­ca­tion artist and has worked on ma­jor cases in Kwazu­lu­na­tal.

A re­cent case so touched the hearts of friends, rel­a­tives and col­leagues that he was hon­oured for his artis­tic con­tri­bu­tion at the SAPS Ser­vice Ex­cel­lence Awards held at the Coast­lands Ho­tel in umh­langa on Friday.

The case was one of the first recorded in which a fa­cial iden­tity had to be drawn up from no avail­able ref­er­ences.

It in­volved the ab­duc­tion of a 3-year-old boy from Louisiana,

Ra­tions for thirsty fruit

AS THE drought af­flict­ing the Western Cape and parts of the East­ern Cape per­sists, de­cid­u­ous fruit farm­ers are con­sid­er­ing contin­gency plans for the com­ing sea­son, ac­cord­ing to de­cid­u­ous fruit farm­ers’ or­gan­i­sa­tion Hort­gro. Spokesman Jac­ques du Preez said a re­cent ir­ri­ga­tion sem­i­nar cov­ered prin­ci­ples of ir­ri­ga­tion de­sign and plan­ning. – ANA near Port Shep­stone, who was later dis­cov­ered to have been killed for muti pur­poses.

“The fam­ily of the boy had ab­so­lutely noth­ing to iden­tify him,” said Marimuthu. “Not even a pic­ture that we could use as a ref­er­ence.

“This be­came a chal­lenge and meant I had to sit with the fa­ther and pull off ran­dom pic­tures of dif­fer­ent parts of the face from the in­ter­net to try to match the boy’s fea­tures.

“When the first draft was done, I took it to the com­mu­nity to ask the neigh­bours to as­sist so we could tweak it fur­ther.”

When it was done, he took the sketch to the boy’s fam­ily who broke down in tears be­cause they could not be­lieve they were look­ing at a “pic­ture” of their miss­ing child.

“How­ever be­fore the pic­ture I put to­gether was of­fi­cially sent out, we learnt that the lit­tle boy had been killed,” said Marimuthu.

“This shat­tered me and the fam­ily. I be­came emo­tion­ally at­tached to the lit­tle boy even though I had never met him. Try­ing to cre­ate an im­age of him made me feel I knew him per­son­ally.”

Marimuthu framed the pic­ture of the boy and gave it to the fam­ily. “I felt I had to do this for the fam­ily be­cause I had used my tal­ents to cre­ate some­thing they would be grate­ful for. It was the only im­age of their son that they would ever own.”

Marimuthu joined the SAPS 26 years ago and worked as a re­servist for 10 years be­fore be­com­ing a fa­cial iden­ti­fi­ca­tion artist. He has no art qual­i­fi­ca­tions, but says he has been blessed with a God-given tal­ent.

He has been roped into many other ma­jor cases in Kwazulu-na­tal, in­clud­ing draw­ing the iden­tik­its of the Umz­into se­rial killer, Thoza­mile Taki, and the Ton­gaat sugar cane se­rial rapist who were ar­rested not long af­ter their iden­tik­its were re­leased.

He re­called the high-pro­file case of a crim­i­nal wanted from 1989 to 2011 but who could not be caught be­cause no­body could iden­tify him.

“The only im­age we had of him was an iden­tity doc­u­ment photograph of when he was 16 years old.

“I used a sci­en­tific method of pro­jec­tion and art to re­con­struct his face us­ing the pic­ture of when he was 16.

“He was 40 years or older when po­lice were look­ing for him. I man­aged to match his fa­cial iden­ti­fi­ca­tion and the sus­pect was ar­rested shortly af­ter.

“He had been on the run for 22 years,” said Marimuthu.

Po­lice Sergeant Paul Marimuthu sketches the face of a miss­ing child.

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