Published on 3 Jan 2013 Sections ,

British tourist missing in Cape Town: police join search

Concern is growing for a British man, Wilkes McDermid, who vanished during a trip to the South African city of Cape Town on December 26th. Police are urging anyone who has seen him to come forward.

Wilkes McDermid

Police in Cape Town told Channel 4 News that they were investigating the disappearance of 38-year-old Mr McDermid, who was last seen at the V and A Waterfront Hotel in the city on 26th December.

They said they had handed out posters and fliers, and made direct appeals for information on local radio stations, urging anyone with any information on his whereabouts to come forward.

Mr McDermid, a software programmer and enthusiastic food and whisky blogger, was supposed to fly back to the UK on Boxing Day, but when asked whether he had actually boarded a plane or was still in South Africa, police said that was “part of our investigation”.

Phumzile Van Damme, a spokeswoman for the Tourism Minister, told us they were also doing everything they could to find him, although she said that the investigation remained a matter for the police.

Worried friends took to Twitter and Facebook in the effort to track down the popular Londoner, who frequently tweeted comments and photographs about food and drink. They created a hashtag, #FindWilkes, to help co-ordinate any information or updates that might come through.

So far, though, there has been no word: no postings on any of Mr McDermid’s social media accounts since Christmas Day.

Bernard Gutman, who has been leading the search for his friend, said police had gone to Wilkes’ flat in London, but no-one had been there. “Anything could’ve happened to him”, he said.

Wilkes was last seen leaving a bar at the Cape Grace hotel, where he had been staying, and walking towards the Waterfront just before 7.30pm on Boxing day. After a series of appeals, including a request from police, the hotel say they have now provided CCTV footage from that night.

In an email statement, the V&A Waterfront hotel said they had been contacted by Mr Gutman and an investigating officer from the South African police service. “SAPS subsequently requested access to any relevent video footage we might have. We have given SAPS full access to our entire video footage.”

“We are sympathetic to the seriousness of the situation and the related anxiety”, they added.

For Mr McDermid’s friends and family, though, there is an anxious wait for any information about what has happened, in the eight days since he was last seen.