An open letter to the @VandAWaterfront about @wilkes888 #FindWilkes

This is a beautiful city, I love living here. I’ve lived here all my 45 years. I spend 90% of my social life at the Waterfront. My teenage children walk around the Waterfront, with their friends, and I and other parents can relax, secure in the knowledge that your security personnel do their duty; that they take pride in their work; that your systems are functioning and your officials efficient and professional.

I can no longer do that.

Yesterday morning Sgt Williams, the investigating officer in a missing person case, tried to get access to CCTV footage of Wilkes McDermid, a regular visitor to Cape Town and my friend for the past 9 years. You refused.

I told you that I don’t suspect that a crime was committed. I told you I was worried about what Wilkes has done, that he may have tried to harm himself. I am worried about my friend. All I asked for is your help.

I provided the police and you with the exact time and place he was last seen – at 19h25 on the Cape Grace Hotel CCTV Camera, leaving that hotel, heading onto the bridge towards the Coke display and main Waterfront area.

Your task was simple – assist the police, track Wilkes getting on to the bridge and see where he went. You failed. Nearly 48 hours after the request to you, you provided nothing. What makes this worse was that you said that you provided the police with all assistance and co-operation. You said you provided CCTV footage of Wilkes. Your Services and Security Executive, Colin Devenish emailed me and said “…we have provided SAPS with information showing that Wilkes left The Waterfront. This information was provided to SAPS this morning.” That is a lie. You have not provided the police with any footage of Wilkes. Nothing.

Tuesday morning you said you were not able to provide the SAPS with the information as there was nobody on duty to authorise this. Tuesday night was the same story, when your duty officer, after returning from her shopping expedition, said nobody was around to give approval for the SAPS to view the footage. It was only after much insistence from me that your duty officer got hold of a manager – and he said yes, have access, but only Wednesday morning, and only to the police.

Your much publicised advanced security systems and CCTV cameras have failed. There are many websites trumpeting the virtues of the V&A Waterfront security. To quote from one “… the V&A Waterfront holds safety and security as a top priority. The V&A Waterfront employs over 300 security guards who patrol predetermined beats, either in uniform or undercover. They are trained to assist with everything from directions to medical emergencies. coordinating the security guards are 15 security personnel who operate, 24-hours a day, from a state-of-the-art control room. These personnel monitor over 800 CCTV cameras, strategically situated around the V&A Waterfront to ensure constant and complete coverage.” What nonsense. What misleading drivel.

And you mean to tell me that someone can just vanish from the Waterfront? Disappear? Come now. Surely your cameras can pick up someone when you have exact details where and when he was seen?

I point out that the police and you just had two photos to work off, but I have known Wilkes for many years and could quite easily have picked him out from a crowd, much quicker that two strangers working off photos. Despite this, you barred me from viewing the footage.

What are you hiding?

Do the cameras work?

What parts of the Waterfront are not covered by CCTV cameras?

Why are there parts of this major tourist destination without proper security?

Why did you refuse access to the police yesterday morning?

Don’t think you can cover this up and wish it away.

You owe Wilkes, his family and friends an explanation. 

Bernard Gutman

Cape Town – 3 January 2013



  1. Best get the media involved, and tell V&A that you are doing exactly that, and you will see them quickly change their tune and start co-operating. Also, contact their PR department – they will put pressure on security personnel to comply. Best luck with finding your friend.

    1. Heartily agree. Everyone who possibly can, please please make an effort to help us find our friend. This is very serious. We are very worried and really, really need to know what has happened to Wilkes. Urgently. Thank you.

Comments are closed.