A police officer who, in his personal capacity, drove from Delft to eSwatini to bring home a man who had been missing for six years, has made good on his promise to maintain their friendship after their 1 700km trek last month
Warrant Officer Michael Daniels spent hours with Denzil Daniels as they travelled back for two days to return the mentally challenged young man to his home in Cape Town.
Denzil, who has since been admitted to Eerste River Hospital for observation, is still in contact with Michael, who pops in to visit him in his free time.
“I said this would be a relationship I would maintain, so that is what I will do,” the police officer told News24.
Denzil disappeared in 2013. After searching for him for years, his family held a memorial service in 2016, believing he had died.
But in June, Michael received a call from the eSwatini police.
They had searched a man found scratching through bins in the landlocked monarchy. In his pocket, officers found a piece of paper containing a Delft address – the very address from which Denzil went missing six years ago.
This #MandelaDay2019 I’m also very pleased to meet Warrant Officer Michael Daniels and Constable Emile Farao at the #WCSOPA2019 who went beyond the call of duty in their efforts to reunite Denzil Daniels and his mother Jane, after Denzil went missing 6 years ago. pic.twitter.com/QRMPDHcnQy
— Mmusi Maimane (@MmusiMaimane) July 18, 2019
Realising that Denzil’s overjoyed mother, Jane, didn’t have the means to fetch her son, Michael and Constable Emile Farao – who deal with Delft’s missing persons cases – took it upon themselves to bring the man, they refer to as the prodigal son, home.
The two tried to find funds to cover a road trip to get Jane to the border, until Pastor Charles George, the chairperson of the Delft community policing forum, stepped in and co-ordinated efforts. Humanitarian organisation Gift of the Givers also assisted by covering the travel and accommodation costs of the trip.
The two officers, Jane and one of her friends set off on June 27 in Michael’s Golf 7. The next day, Jane wept as she finally held her son in her arms again.
Little is known of how Denzil ended up in eSwatini, Michael says.
“He is very confused and can’t give straight or understandable answers. I still don’t know how he got there or what happened to him while he was missing.”
Nevertheless, he goes to visit Denzil in his personal time to chat, while he and Farao are regular visitors at Jane’s Delft home.
Western Cape Premier Alan Winde, in his State of the Province Address, paid tribute to the two police officers for going beyond the call of duty to reunite Daniels and his mother.
The officers received awards in recognition of their commitment to their work and for “helping to build relationships with the community they serve”.
Michael said he is honoured by the gesture.
“It was a privilege to be there. When the premier introduced us and called for us to stand, people clapped so long, it felt like 20 minutes. We were so proud.”