A man walked into a bar on the 27th December, and was given an unexpected package by the manager – containing an expensive bottle of champagne, and certain personal effects of his friend Wilkes McDermid who he had said goodbye to a few days earlier. He expected Wilkes to have flown back to the UK on the pm of the 26th . The man signalled his concern by trying to contact Wilkes – who has an unusually impressive electronic personality and virtual imprint – but had now completely switched off and dropped off the radar.
Wilkes’ other friends in South Africa were quickly roped in, and the authorities were alerted and the British consulate was informed. That was the start to our story of finding Wilkes. What followed was a harrowing collation of images from his friends overseas and hints that caused us grave concern about Wilkes’ wellbeing. A combination of amazing friends overseas and support from some local authorities and people in South Africa made the search go viral on Twitter and Facebook.
Reports of a person closely resembling Wilkes started coming in on the 3rd January . Eventually, Wilkes’ friends found him in Cape Town on the 7th January where he had been staying at local hotels, since the 26th December, under his own name, travelling openly in and around the city . We will not speculate publicly about the chain of events that lead to Wilkes not returning to England on the 26th December and the events from then to his discovery. What we would like to note is our concern over the current well-being of Wilkes. We would like to express our sincere appreciation to all the people and friends that were part of the process that led to us finding him. The collective effort has been incredible.
Lastly, we trust the UK authorities will lend their immediate assistance to Wilkes while he recovers in South Africa, and to the safe repatriation of Wilkes back to his home in London, and note with concern that there are very clear gaping holes in the security systems and processes in and around Cape Town – specifically at the V&A Waterfront — and we hope that the escalation of these issues to the relevant authorities is met with the urgency they deserve.
9 January 2013