Pseudoscientists, Psychics, and Pop Psychologists: Danie Krugel resurfaces on Carte Blanche
Yes indeed, it appears Danie was on Carte Blanche, and the formerly-respectable magazine show has sunk to new lows with this episode (transcript here). I can only express heartfelt dismay that Ruda Landman is ending a shining career in investigative journalism on this sorry and pathetic note.
I have read through the transcript, and I can only say that if you were taken in by that episode, then they must have been sending some sort of subliminal stupidity signal through the TV that wasn’t evident in the written words. I cannot fathom how some of the people who have commented following this episode consider it to be the success story to silence the critics. The only thing restoring my faith in humanity is the equal number of people expressing distaste for the three ring circus this show has become.
Let me summarise the highlights for you:
- Carte Blanche decides to resurrect the investigation of notorious 80s paedophile Gert van Rooyen, by bringing in Danie to find the bodies of the missing girls. It’s a ratings dream: a paedophile who died before he could pay for his crimes or lead the police to the bodies of the girls he took. Two decades without answers amid massive news coverage and rumours of satanic rituals, police conspiracies and child prostitution rings… and in the midst of it all, families desperate for closure. In other words, prime pickings for the unscrupulous bottom feeders of society.
- Danie uses a sample from a lock of Anne-Marie Wapenaar’s hair, kept by her mother, in his ‘device’. He receives a weak signal and claims that he might be getting interference from the rest of the lock (how interesting that he has never mentioned before that this could happen, and never seemed to get interference from the hair brushes and razors provided in other cases). The rest of the lock is brought to Danie’s location, and he receives a strong signal in Pretoria.
- He does the same with Yolande Wessels’ hair, using a braid kept by her mother after it was cut off. Naturally, he receives a strong signal, again in Pretoria.
- Allow me to remind you at this point that a braid that has been cut off cannot contain any roots, which means there is nothing physically present in that sample of hair to distinguish it as Yolande Wessels’. Should a body actually be found, and DNA extracted from the remains, that braid would not contain enough information to prove a match. Yet Danie claims he can use it to find her amongst nearly 7 billion other living people, and who knows how many dead people, on and under the earth.
- Also allow me to remind you that Danie knows he is being asked to find the bodies of the missing girls in the van Rooyen case, and the location of the house where van Rooyen lived, and took the seventh girl who escaped, is public knowledge. In fact, it’s practically infamous.
- So off they go from Bloemfontein to Pretoria, and despite claiming he now needs to refine the search to a more detailed location than just ‘Pretoria’, Danie heads straight to van Rooyen’s house. Proof positive that he knows the location, and has already made up his mind where he’s going, without the use of his device.
- He then refines the search and leads them to an open plot, close to van Rooyen’s house and even closer to the spot where van Rooyen and his accomplice died. Yawn. Predictable.
- Danie then identifies a search area for each body, each area being roughly the size of a football pitch. Assuming ‘roughly’ means about 100m by 50m, times two, that’s about a hectare of ground to cover. Danie claims he cannot refine the search further.
- Let me repeat that – he receives a ‘strong signal’ from Bloemfontein that leads him directly to van Rooyen’s house in Pretoria, but when he’s standing at the site, suddenly he can’t refine it any more and claims he may be out by 100m. Add to that the fact that when he first tested the device, he located his son at a distance of 2m. Either his device has become less accurate over time, or he’s trying to give himself a wide enough search area to improve the chances of locating something that could be claimed as a hit.
- So Carte Blanche digs. And digs. And digs some more. And predictably, in an area that has been used as a dumping ground, and lived on by farmer workers, they find remains of just about everything, including some fragments of bone that may or may not be human. No skeletons yet.
- Now this is where things get really hysterical. Given that Danie cannot narrow the search any further, Carte Blanche turn to an expert who might be even more qualified than Danie at what he does (take that as you will) – they bring in a clairvoyant. Yes, read that again. Carte Blanche, not satisfied with a pseudoscientist, consult a psychic.
- And then, as an aside, they express amazement that she told them what they were looking for before they told her. Gosh, colour me shocked, an expert at cold reading figured out what they were looking for, almost certainly after they had given her plenty of clues that they now don’t recall as important.
- The psychic enchants them with her vague, generic claptrap. Naturally, despite the fact that she is willing to commit to more precise locations than Danie, they still don’t find any skeletons.
- With only bone fragments to go on, they send the lot to be analysed for DNA. Predictably, amongst the bits and pieces of chickens, dogs and pigs, they eventually find a few bone fragments that can be shown to be human, from six individuals – four male, two female.
- They take DNA from the mothers of the missing girls… but the DNA in the bone fragments is too degraded to make a match.
- I’m going to explain that again slowly. No skeletons of little girls. No skeletons at all. Tiny fragments of bone, a tiny fraction of which were identified as human, two thirds of which were identified as male.
- Carte Blanche then previews the show to the parents, who seem to accept the finding of partial, unidentified remains six blocks from van Rooyens house as some sort of closure.
- No doubt in order to avoid looking like scum for re-opened old wounds with no conclusion, Carte Blanche offers two psychologists to council the grieving parents. One of the psychologists is a popular TV personality “Dr. D”, who appears regularly on SABC’s “Three Talk with Noelene”. The trifecta of prime time exploitation is complete – pseudoscientists, psychics and pop psychologists.
- Danie Krugel is hailed as a success. The scientists want to do more tests. Carte Blanche promises to hand their findings over to the police. The End.
I ask you this – if a policeman had claimed to have made a breakthrough in the case, while investigating old evidence, and led forensic experts, archaeologists and anthropologists to an empty plot within spitting distance of where van Rooyen lived and died, and days and days of digging revealed only fragments of bone, from animals, men and women, and no conclusive identification of the bones as belonging to the girls, or dating of the bones to see when they were buried, or even any way to prove that the few female bones belonged to girls and not women … would we be celebrating it as a success? Be honest – we would be bitching about the waste of time and claiming those bones could be anyone’s.
In my opinion, this has been a shameless exploitation of the families of the missing girls, and of their memories. All I can say is that there was a time when Carte Blanche was a respected news programme, but this latest travesty has proven that they are as low down dirty as the SABC. To those who pay good money to watch this garbage – you should write to Multichoice demanding your fees for July be paid back.
Also, as one visitor has pointed out, you can leave your comments on the episode on the Carte Blanche website if you feel strongly one way or another. Unfortunately you will need to sign up as a site member to do so.
Update 2: There is now a Facebook Group “Carte Blanche have finally lost the plot completely”. I finally popped my facebook cherry for no better reason than to join this group.
Update 3: another journalist, Gill Gifford, actually doing her job and reporting on the other side of the story, instead of falling over herself to lap up Carte Blanche’s sloppy seconds like the rest of them. Good on ya, Gill. And then there’s this article – interesting how quickly the story changes when the critics are finally given a voice. Suddenly the machine has a name: the Matter Orientation System (MOS)… although personally I would have gone with Particle Orientation System, or POS. According to a spokesman, “Controlled environment testing is currently under way” – fantastic! I can’t wait to see the results published in a peer reviewed journal. And lastly, Danie is now claiming that his discovery may be evidence that van Rooyen also preyed on little boys. I… just… don’t have the words.