Police charge two in the David Ezekiel case
A body discovered in an open field in Benoni on the East Rand last week, may well be that of 60-year-old Briton David Ezekiel who went missing earlier in February. However, the body has yet to be formally identified.
Ezekiel, who has been living in Johannesburg for 35 years, disappeared on February 16 and became the subject of an intensive and desperate missing person social media campaign. A body, which is presumed to be that of Ezekiel, was found in the Actonville suburb of Benoni, near the place where Ezekiel had last been sighted.
RIGHT: The original CSO poster which went viral among the Jewish community last week
“There is clear evidence of murder,” a reliable source close to the investigation told the Jewish Report, “but police still need to positively identify the body.”
Ezekiel emigrated to South Africa and spent most of the past 35 years time as the catering manager of Our Parents Home in Norwood. For the past three years he has run a handyman service called “Dave’s Handyman” and was last seen alive driving away from his home in a gated community in Linksfield, accompanied by two other cars.
He was thought to be buying or selling a car.
LEFT: A 2012 picture of Davis Ezekiel (second from left), with his brother Immanuel and children Jason and Charlane. The family were together in Pretoria for what turned out to be a short-lived marriage between David and Bev Pockroy
Senior SA Police Services spokesman Brigadier Vishnu Naidoo confirmed that police had arrested two suspects, a man and a woman, in Actonville. “They appeared in the Johannesburg Magistrates Court on Monday charged with two counts of theft of motor vehicles, general theft and fraud and in connection with the disappearance of Mr Ezekiel.” The charges “all relate to property that belonged to Mr Ezekiel”, Naidoo said.
The two suspects were remanded in custody until March 8 for a formal bail hearing.
Ezekiel’s close-knit family – including two brothers in the UK, his SA-born children Charlane (Charlie) and Jason, both of whom went to King David School – told media in the UK before the body was found that they were “incredibly worried” over what might have happened to him. They called his disappearance totally out of character.
Charlie, a fashion designer in Los Angeles, described her father as a “hard working, kind and loyal man”.
David Ezekiel had spent his 60th birthday in Los Angeles and Las Vagas last December, says Glen Phillips, with his brother Immanuel, his children and their spouses and his two grandchildren.
RIGHT: David’s son Jason and his two grandchildren. David and Charlie were born in SA and attended King David Linksfield
Charlie told UK media: “He left the house at around 18:00 with two people – an Indian man and woman.
“We think he went with them to sell two cars, but nothing is set in stone. They went out for dinner and then dropped him… in Benoni.”
She said her father, who lived alone, was last seen getting into a car in the Benoni area at around 22:30.
The concerned family, working with police and the CSO, launched an appeal for witnesses online which was widely shared among the community. They also posted a notice on the SA Missing Persons Facebook page.
Glen Phillips, a long-time friend of Ezekiel, told the Jewish Report that Ezekiel had trained as a chef in the UK, Israel and Europe. He said that when the 25-year-old married immigrant arrived in South Africa, he began to work at Our Parents Home in Norwood.
Whatever happened to David Ezekiel?
“David had been popular and very well liked by the residents” at the retirement home, says the Chevrah Kadisha’s head of group communications, Tzivia Grauman. Ezekiel left the aged home for a short while and worked at a bakery, only to return to the home in 2008, and finally retiring in 2013.
Our Parents Home, which today houses 220 retirees, was originally established in 1940 to welcome Jewish immigrants fleeing the Holocaust,
it was incorporated into the Chev in 2001.
In 2012, the then-divorced Ezekiel married Bev Pokroy in Pretoria, but that marriage also ended in divorce.
Phillips confirmed that the police were treating the matter as a murder. The case had originally been “handled by the missing persons division, before it was escalated to a murder”, he said.
“We are in contact with the authorities and the family,” said Isabel Potgieter, spokesman for the British High Commission in South Africa. She told Jewish Report that she was unable to say anything more as it was a consular affair.
Philip Kalmanowitz of the Johannesburg Chevrah Kadisha told Jewish Report that Ezekiel’s body was in a mortuary and was undergoing forensic testing. Once it has been released it would be prepared for repatriation to the UK where he will be buried.