Moun­tain search for wife ‘was not done prop­erly’

The Star Early Edition - - NEWS - MARVIN CHARLES

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.

PIC­TURE: COURT­NEY AFRICA

AG­GRIEVED: Chris Nikoi, hus­band of Char­lotte.

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