Mountain search for wife ‘was not done properly’
HE IS devastated by the news of his wife’s death and believes she would have been alive had the search by police for her on Table Mountain been conducted properly.
Having just returned from New York, Chris Nikoi, spoke exclusively to The Star’s sister paper, the Cape Argus, about the death of his wife, Charlotte, a Unicef associate director, who went missing on the mountain on March 21. Last week, police confirmed that they had found her body on Table Mountain.
“I am not unhappy with any individual, but institutionally the way missing persons are dealt with, especially adults, I personally think there is vast room for improvement.
“The fact that she was found where she was, speaks clearly that the searches that were conducted were not properly done,” he said.
Nikoi said he was prepared to take it further to assist in improving different aspects.
“My wife is gone, but I don’t want her death to be in vain. I want to contribute in some way, so that any person who goes through this has a different outcome,” he said.
Nikoi said it had been a harrowing two months since his wife’s disappearance. He, his wife and daughter went for a hike up Platteklip gorge. Halfway up, she decided to turn back. That was the last time he saw her.
Nikoi was in New York when he received the call informing him a body had been found on Table Mountain.
“My office called me saying the body looked like my wife, judging by the clothing,” he said. At the time no DNA tests were conducted to prove that it was Charlotte, so he was forced to wait for the DNA results.
“I had to wait for firm confirmation, I felt numb because I was praying and hoping every single day of my life that she would be found alive,” he said.
Breaking the news to their daughters was extremely hard. “It was difficult, but they are strong and I think they are taking the news better than me.”
Nikoi said that the one crucial moment he was not prepared for was the news that she was found on the mountain.
“There were many searches and I have seen it, but what I was not expecting was that she would be found on the mountain,” he said.
Police spokesperson Andre Traut said police treated the disappearance of Nikoi as its number one priority.
“The disappearance of Charlotte Nikoi was thoroughly investigated,” Traut said.
Wilderness Search and Rescue spokesperson Johan Marais said that when his team originally went to search, they found nothing.
“We did not see anything and we found nothing. We searched the entire day with 18 people and 2 dogs,” Marais said.
Nikoi said he wishes he could turn back the clock.
“I wish we had gone with her when she said she would wait for us at the bottom,” he said.
Nikoi added that a difficult journey lay ahead for him and his family. “It will be a very difficult journey for me and my daughters but we have to make the best of it.”
Charlotte will be laid to rest in Ghana and a memorial service will be held in Joburg this weekend.
Breaking the news to their daughters was hard.
AGGRIEVED: Chris Nikoi, husband of Charlotte.