The Herald (South Africa)
Emotional service for teacher
Pupils and colleagues pay tribute to Theresa Buys who was murdered and thrown into river at Cradock
SHE only came to Cradock late last year, but Theresa Buys made a big impact on the lives of her colleagues, pupils and friends in her new home town. Art teacher at Cradock Preparatory School, Buys, 43, was abducted from her rented home on a farm outside town, murdered and her body thrown from the Tams low water bridge into the Fish River two weeks ago.
While emotional friends, family and fellow teachers attended yesterday’s memorial service in the school hall, the former Jeffreys Bay woman’s suspected murderer Marius Isaacs, 25, appeared in the town’s magistrate’s court.
The entrance to the hall was decorated with drawings made by Buys’s pupils under a banner reading: Thank you Mrs Theresa.
“We did not know Theresa very long, and when she first arrived it took a while for her to really fit in. But before long she crept into a very special place in all our hearts,” a tearful principal Elmar Heese said during the service.
Heese said Buys arrived in Cradock last year to take up the art teacher position. A tissue often appeared from her pocket to dry tears as she spoke to the crowd.
For the majority of the service Buys’s estranged husband Johan, wearing a white cap and sunglasses, sat with his head bowed. It was difficult to see his expression, but he often rubbed his unshaved face, or hid behind his hands.
To his right sat their daughter Katja, 16, who showed very little emotion, and to his left sat Theresa’s mother Julianna Marais, who frequently wiped tears from her face.
When time came for Marais to thank those in attendance she had to stop and compose herself more than once. “Each one of you sitting here today touched Theresa’s life in your own special way, and I hope she touched each one of you in an equally special manner.”
In the meantime, in less than ideal conditions, the search for Buys’s body continued on the icy cold Fish River, where officers of Cradock’s K9 search and rescue team scoured the 50km from the Tams low water bridge to the Elandsdrift Dam.
Today marks exactly two weeks since the search for Buys started, after she was initially reported missing.
Warrant Officer Jacques Swartz, along with his dog Thabo, paddled down the river in an inflatable canoe.
Swartz constantly looked over the side, poking at underwater debris with his paddle, while Thabo sniffed the air for any scent that might lead them to a body.
Warrant Officer Carl Arendt and Lieutenant Jackie Smith assisted from the river bank. Earlier, teams from all over the province assisted in the search.
When water visibility was at its best a search helicopter was also employed, but with little success.
Officers did, however, recover another body during the search, that of a man who went missing about a month ago. This is being treated as a accidental drowning.
Police spokeswoman Captain Stefanie Smith said search efforts had been scaled down as hopes of finding her dwindled.