| ‘We’re still in the dark about what’s going on’ – Pretoria woman after husband’s shock arrest in Hong Kong

She doesn’t know how to tell their children where their father is, says the wife of one of the two men who’ve been held in Hong Kong for the past three weeks. 

The families of Pieter Bouwer, manager of car dealership Gys Pitzer Motors in Lindo Park, Pretoria, and Pieter Potgieter (32), owner of Sunward Motors in Pretoria, have been in crisis since April 4 when the two men were arrested at a Hong Kong bar on a charge of theft. They were in the country to support the Blitzbokke at a World Rugby Sevens Series tournament.

The two spent four days behind bars in a Hong Kong jail cell before being released on Monday April 8 on bail of 2 000 Hong Kong dollars (about R4 000) each. They made a second court appearance just before the Easter weekend.

“We’re still in the dark about what’s going on,” says Bouwer’s wife, Rhouna. “We’d hoped to get good news this week, but it didn’t work out that way.”

She says it all happened so suddenly.

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“Our children are just six and nine years old. They don’t really understand. I [told them] that Daddy’s still working there. It’s difficult for all of us. Pieter and I have been married for 13 years. It’s the first time we’ve been separated for this long.”

Gys Pitzer, Bouwer’s employer, told YOU that the situation the two families found themselves in was like something out of a thriller. Gys was part of the party of four travelling together to Hong Kong on Thursday April 4 to watch the rugby. Bouwer had won the trip in a competition at work.

Gys and the fourth friend didn’t accompany the two Pieters when they went to a nearby “disco bar” later that evening. He said from what he understood the bouncer had picked up a wallet and asked Bouwer if it was his.

Bouwer had his own wallet on him, but thought it might belong to Potgieter, so he kept the wallet with him. Meanwhile a Mr Chan, the actual owner of the wallet, was looking for it.

The bouncer told him that Bouwer had it. That’s when Bouwer was accused of trying to steal the wallet and both South Africans were arrested.

Rhouna says she can’t understand it. “It was clearly a misunderstanding. They gave the wallet back right there and then. There was nothing missing from it.”

Both men had thousands of Hong Kong dollars of their own on them, according to Gys.

Pieter and Rhouna Bouwer

Rhouna says they’re working with the South African embassy to speed up the process of bringing the men back home.

“I know my husband is coming home. It’s just a question of when. We miss him.”

She says Bouwer is handling the situation well despite the circumstances.

“He’s very strong. He’s staying positive. Our faith is strong.”

Rhouna says the only thing that keeps them going is that they can communicate with Bouwer daily.

“It keeps one going. Otherwise, I’d have given up hope long ago.”

Pieter and Rhouna Bouwer

Rhouna says she’s also in contact with Potgieter’s wife. The couple have a small son.

“They’re just as worried. We’re all supporting one another.”

Ndivhuwo Mabaya, spokesperson for the department of international relations and cooperation, earlier confirmed that two South Africans had been arrested in Hong Kong but wouldn’t give any further details.

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