19 January 2004
AMSTERDAM — Missing Dutch tourist Marleen Konings, 24, has been found dead in South Africa, but an arrested suspect has denied he is guilty of her murder.
Konings disappeared at the end of last month and her body was found dumped in a ravine near Cape Town on Friday. The student’s body was found after an intensive search by dozens of police officers, the Dutch Foreign Affairs Ministry has confirmed.
Police arrested a man on 14 January on suspicion of involvement in the woman’s disappearance. The man allegedly used Konings’ credit card and mobile phone SIM card and will appear in court on Friday to answer the allegations.
The detainee is believed to be a South African man, Rob Cowley, seen with Konings at the end of December. The Dutch woman allegedly offered a ride to the man and police spread a composite description of the suspect on 11 January.
Cowley uses various aliases and is known to police, but the arrested suspect denies he is the man wanted in connection with the murder investigation. Authorities have not ruled out more arrests, an NOS news report said.
South African media has described the arrested suspect as a 44-year-old man who speaks Afrikaans. He is reportedly 1.9m tall, thinly built and has two golden teeth.
The suspect initially refused to co-operate with police and said he has memory loss and did not know Konings. Later, he allegedly named the area where her body was discovered.
Passers-by recently found some of Konings’ baggage containing documents and personal items. Police also found her towel and pants in a nearby ravine, while the woman’s rental Toyota car was discovered abandoned on 13 January about 200km away from where she was last seen.
Fearing for her safety, the Foreign Affairs Ministry in The Hague ordered two detectives of the national police force KLPD to join the investigation this week. The two officers arrived in South Africa last week.
Konings, of Winterswijk, had been working as a student trainee in Cape Town since August 2003. The second-year multi-media student was enrolled with the Saxion Hogeschool in Enschede and was staying in South Africa for six months.
A school spokesman said the institute had oscillated between hope and fear and has reacted with both shock and disbelief to her death.
[Copyright Expatica News 2004]
Subject: Dutch news