A private investigator who was hired by family members to find Knysna businessman Bert Scheepers said on Tuesday that he concluded that the 65-year-old was alive.
"We have concluded our investigation and have deducted that Bert Scheepers is alive and he wilfully and willingly disappeared," private eye Mike Bolhuis told News24.
He said they had done a thorough investigation since Scheepers' disappearance from his home in Thesen Islands on May 9.
Bolhuis claimed there was "overwhelming proof" that Scheepers disappeared due to family and financial reasons. The family had given him permission to make his conclusions public, he said.
However, Southern Cape police spokesperson Captain Malcolm Pojie made it very clear on Tuesday that the police's investigation continued.
"We are regarding him as a missing person. There is no evidence to suggest that at this stage."
Scheepers, a well-known businessman, farmer and car collector, left to go to The House of Classic and Sports Cars around 08:00 on that day.
His daughter Lisa previously said that he left his personal belongings and vehicle at home.
CCTV footage could apparently not show that he had left the island.
"No suicide note was found, he left his wallet and cellphone and new laptop at the house," she said.
According to a circular issued to Thesen Island homeowners, search parties combed the area as a whole. Sniffer dogs, a drone and divers were also used to no avail.
The search also focused on other areas and properties he visited.
Bolhuis said they did not know where Scheepers could be but they would investigate "who is assisting him".
"We urge him to come forward. He could be anywhere. We are going to be looking at all his cars, his financials. He must eat and live. We are going to take possession of everything he has outside because we are concerned something could happen with it."
Attorney Daan Dercksen confirmed that the Master of the High Court appointed him as a curator in Scheepers' absence to manage his affairs.
"Most of his businesses are in different entities. At this point in time, I am looking after numerous companies, closed corporations and trusts in which he has an interest," he said.
"The trusts own various properties and businesses."
These included his car business, a farm in Plettenberg Bay, a sea cottage in Robberg Beach, a house in Harbour Island, Gordon's Bay and various houses he rented out.
"We are still gathering information to make some sense of everything that is going on. There is no word about his whereabouts."
Dercksen would not speculate on the disappearance.
"What I can say is that I get the impression [the police] are not focusing on a possible death but on the fact that he is alive and well and somewhere. The whole focus of the police appears to have shifted [to that]."
Scheepers' personal assistant of many years said she had not heard anything and "knew less than most people".
However, she had a gut feeling that he was alive.
Scheepers is around 1.9m tall and weighs about 90kg. He has blue eyes and grey hair, which is sometimes coloured.
He was dressed in dark trousers and a light blue, long-sleeved top at the time of his disappearance.
Anyone who has information about his whereabouts can contact the SAPS investigating officer, Captain Carolus Heyser, on 082 778 7241 or private investigator Colonel Luke Enslin on 082 222 5821/079 533 7069.
Read this report on News24Wire.com.
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