x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 July 2017

Victim's brother is heading home

The brother of Kerry Winter is to return to South Africa this weekend after spending two months searching for his sister, who disappeared after a gruesome attack.

Kurt Winter posting a leaflet with the details of his missing sister Kerry.
Kurt Winter posting a leaflet with the details of his missing sister Kerry.

DUBAI // The brother of Kerry Winter is to return to South Africa this weekend after spending two months searching for his sister, who disappeared after a gruesome attack. Kurt Winter said he never paused to think about returning home earlier because he needed to feel that he had done all he could. "If I don't do it and give it my full effort," he said, "I'll be living my life wondering if I didn't do enough."

Mr Winter, who has appointed a lawyer to investigate the case, has worked tirelessly to find his younger sister since she vanished on Aug 20. "It has been an emotional roller coaster," said Mr Winter, 41. "I have spent two months here and cannot remain indefinitely. My business is suffering back home and I had to sell one of my properties to keep going." Although he will be leaving on Sunday, Mr Winter said the search would continue when his younger brother Clint arrived next week.

"The campaign won't stop," he said. "The Facebook page will continue to stay up and my brother, who just got his visa, will be coming." Mr Winter said he was not sure how long his brother planned to stay. "He's arriving next week and it's up to him if he feels like he can afford it," he said. "The search will continue but the area is so vast you don't know where to start." Mr Winter said he was disappointed that the family never received any help or assistance from the South African government to help ease their ordeal.

"I've had to rely on other people and raise funds," he said. "It's difficult for me to accept that from people and it's really disappointing that we received no help or assistance from official bodies." Ms Winter, 35, an events organiser from Johannesburg, was last seen by neighbours outside her Al Barsha villa being beaten by a man with a baseball bat and then being dragged, injured and bleeding, into the back of her car before being driven away.

A British businessman, 42, identified by prosecutors as MA, is the only suspect in the case. He has told police that he dropped Ms Winter off at the Arabian Ranches roundabout the night she vanished, but police have found no traces of her. He later told police he dumped her body in the desert, but then changed his story, claiming he threw her in the sea. MA is being held by Public Prosecution after police failed to gather enough evidence to bring a murder charge against him. Mr Winter said that Public Prosecution is still trying to gather DNA evidence against him and results of the findings are to be finalised anytime now.

The neighbours witnessed Ms Winter being repeatedly hit over the head with the bat by MA. They said he knocked her unconscious, loaded her into her 4x4 and drove off. One of the neighbours, a Lebanese man, was assaulted by MA when he tried to step in. MA was remanded in police custody for at least a month before he was referred to public prosecution on the charges of assault against the neighbour.

Dubai Police carried out searches in the desert and sea. Mr Winter also carried out an independent search for his sister with the support of family members. Although police believe it is highly unlikely that Ms Winter is still alive, given the circumstances of her disappearance, Mr Winter says he and his family refuse to give up hope. "You hear so many cases of missing people and it is something you will live through life, believing that the person might resurface one day," he said.

Mr Winter believes MA knows the whereabouts of his sister. He implored anyone with information or evidence that could help the case to come forward. rabubaker@thenational.ae